I haven’t written a post for awhile. In fact, it’s been over a year since I last updated my blog. Sure, I’ve dabbled here and there in a few private pieces of poetry or short stories I’ve quickly jotted down in my phone. Sometimes when an idea strikes you, you just can’t say no. But in terms of actually sitting down, contemplating a blog idea and putting it out there for all to see… it’s been too long.
I can cite plenty of excuses for why it’s taken me this long to type anything on these pages. I was writing professionally, so any creative writing took energy out of me that I didn’t really have to give. We bought a house and got a dog, then all of a sudden my time started filling up. I switched jobs, so trying to sit down and write anything while in the middle of a big transition was nearly impossible.
But the truth is, I haven’t updated my blog because I’ve been too busy.
What a terrible excuse, right? I mean, writing has been one of my favorite interests since I was a little girl. It’s always been a way to express myself, imagine new things and invent incredible stories. I’ve used writing to explore my mind and process through emotions I didn’t even know I had. It’s one of my dearest joys.
And yet, as I’ve grown older, I’ve gradually let the demands of life (or perceived “demands,” let’s be honest), stifle my drive to write. I’ve gotten caught up in managing the house, keeping things clean and organized, taking care of the dog, getting ahead at work and even spending time with friends and family.
Any spare moment I had was a moment to be scheduled. It was a moment to be filled with something to do, someone to talk to, something to check off the list. And while none of these routines are inherently bad—on the contrary, they’re all good habits to have—they’ve inevitably choked out any free time I have to devote to creative writing. They’ve taken the front seat of my life, and the one pastime I truly enjoy has been tossed in the trunk, hog tied with duct tape wrapped around its mouth.
It’s not just me who’s experienced this. It’s all of us, particularly here in the United States. We love being busy. We thrive on it. Busyness means everything in our culture. We equate busyness to popularity, success, wellbeing… even to financial stability. If you’re not busy, then you’re not actually doing anything, are you? This is the mindset we hold, and it’s definitely the mindset I’ve clung to for years.
Still today, I continue to ask myself: “What am I doing tomorrow? What needs to be done? Who haven’t I talked to? What’s on the to do list? Who haven’t I seen in awhile?” The concept of constantly doing rattles around in my brain and forces me to move, despite my body screaming for rest.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying laziness is a better alternative. But there must be a middle ground between constantly moving and not moving at all. There must be a gray area where we can legitimately rest and focus our attention on things which fill us up (more substantially than Netflix, social media or a 30-minute bubble bath), rather than requiring something from us.
Enter: COVID-19. For all of its terrible effects—and there have been terrible, terrible effects—one thing which I am grateful to this virus for has been the opportunity to slow down. I’ve had to cancel meetings with friends and family. I’ve been unable to go into work. I’ve had to sit in my clean, organized house and wonder: what do I do now?
For once in my life, there’s nothing else to do. I have no where to go, no one to talk to, nothing to focus on. It has been the strangest, most eye-opening, growing experience of my life.
I’ve realized the reason I feel so exhausted all the time is because I am actually exhausted. You tend to get that way when you never stop moving. But being forced to stop moving, take a breather and simply rest has been such a time of joy for me. I’ve prayed more than I have in months; I’ve read more books; I’ve focused more time and energy on my husband; I’ve intentionally reached out to people I had forgotten about before.
Most importantly, I’ve remembered the passion I hold for writing, which I previously stuffed into a box for the sake of busyness.
This isn’t to say COVID-19 is a good thing, not in the least bit. However, beautiful lessons can come from some of the worst experiences. The lesson I’ve learned is busyness for the sake of busyness does not equal efficiency. Or success. Or growth.
Busyness for busyness’s sake is just moving so you don’t feel like drowning, when what you should really be asking is why you never learned how to float in the first place.
These last few weeks, I’ve been learning how to float. I’ve taken a deep breath of fresh air, rested my head back and actually looked up at the sky above. And I’ve started writing again.
So, I do pray the COVID-19 scare ends quickly. I pray for healing and peace for all of those who have been affected. But, I also pray that once everything has resumed normality, we remember some of the lessons we’ve learned during this time. I certainly hope to remember the significance of slowing down and the beauty I found in writing again. I want to take intentional time to put busyness on the shelf, sit in the quiet and enjoy my passion. Hopefully it doesn’t take me another year to remember.