The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Too Busy to Train

How many times have we told ourselves that we're too busy to train? We're too busy to ... 

We're just too damn busy.

An article caught my eye, from which I've posted an excerpt below. The article discusses what the author refers to as "The Busy Trap." If you have the time, check out the whole thing here.

The ‘Busy’ Trap

If you live in America in the 21st century you've probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It's become the default response when you ask anyone how they're doing: "Busy!" "So busy." "Crazy busy." It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: "That's a good problem to have," or "Better than the opposite."

Notice it isn't generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs  who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It's almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they've taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they've "encouraged" their kids to participate in. They're busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they're addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren't either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.'s  make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications. I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn't have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.

Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. They come home at the end of the day as tired as grown-ups. I was a member of the latchkey generation and had three hours of totally unstructured, largely unsupervised time every afternoon, time I used to do everything from surfing the World Book Encyclopedia to making animated films to getting together with friends in the woods to chuck dirt clods directly into one another's eyes, all of which provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it's something we've chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. Not long ago I  Skyped with a friend who was driven out of the city by high rent and now has an artist's residency in a small town in the south of France. She described herself as happy and relaxed for the first time in years. She still gets her work done, but it doesn't consume her entire day and brain. She says it feels like college - she has a big circle of friends who all go out to the cafe together every night. She has a boyfriend again. (She once ruefully summarized dating in New York: "Everyone's too busy and everyone thinks they can do better.") What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality - driven, cranky, anxious and sad - turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It's not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school - it's something we collectively force one another to do.


walt said...

"...his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting...

"They're busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety...

"'s something we collectively force one another to do."

So many words and phrases in that article --->point---> right at the source of our angst. Many years ago, I had business in a city near some sort of "political protest." As I approached the area on foot, something spooked the crowd (the police, I suppose) and AS ONE they began to stampede in panic right past me! The sheer force of the panic was *electric,* and I turned and ran a ways too. Later, I was describing this to an associate who advised, "If it ever happens again, walk in slow motion IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION, as though you are doing tai chi -- they will never even see you because you'll be invisible to them." This stuck with me.

How often does the solution to the man-swarm's dilemmas lie in going precisely the other direction? Not in a dour sense, at all, but in the spirit of the old joke: "Doc, my leg hurts when I do such and such." And the doc says, "Don't do that."

One of the main themes of Walden was that most men live lives of quiet desperation. True for Thoreau, and nowadays the volume is turned up to 11, unto real chaos and violence. Thoreau counseled a kind of minimalism -- "Simplify!" -- but folks around him were too busy to hear. Of course, there are always a few who learn to listen...

jc said...

i'm glad i had time to read this post :)

Rick said...

I think that most of our obstacles; the toughest ones, are self created.

Felicia said...

I was at work doint fourt hings at once when I read this. Brilliant - and too true. Sharing it with family, friends and training partners...

Rick said...

We could all use a reminder from time to time.

Zacky Chan said...

wow, thanks for this.

Paul said...

I share the same feelings with you guys...

having said that what seems to be another new problem in that folks in Europe are demonstrating austerity measures like later retiring age and lesser social security benefits, should we work harder has a new dimension...not that I have any clue to any possible solution....:):)

Rick said...

I don't have any answers either. I think what may be the most useful tool in gaining leverage to maintain balance in one's life is a calm, clear mind.

Compass Strategist said...

>most of our obstacles; the toughest ones, are self created.
That is the truth.

>We could all use a reminder from time to time.
Is there an app for that?

>I don't have any answers either.
It all depends on one's set of priorities. In summary, it is all about doing 1st things 1st.

Here is an old IMA training rule with a touch of Daoism:
Whatever you are doing, focus on practicing the following five IMA principles:
1. Feeling relaxing,
2. Feeling that you are connected to the ground,
3. Feel centering from a top down posture.
4. Feeling calm
5. Feeling whole

Practice all five principles while being mindful the setting around you.

Do it 24/7 if you can. ...

Build your script of priorities, approaches, lists of modes, contingencies, etc. (on a sheet of paper).

Follow your script

In summary, Mr. Matz is right. We need to train at least 30 min a day. Time to go. ... It is time to train.