1/168

19 February 2006

“I’m ridiculously overbooked.” This is what I tell people when they ask me if I’m “busy”. I stopped using the word “busy” a while back after talking it over with a friend. You ask someone how they’re doing. “Oh, I’m soooo busy,” they tell you–often with a tone of voice that implies that the world has visited this condition upon them without their say-so. It’s a lie I’ve told myself many times: “If I weren’t so busy, THEN I could . . .” Fill in the blank your own way: “. . . follow my dreams,” “. . . write that play,” “. . . get a social life,” “. . . go to church,” or whatever it is.

As I said, it’s a lie. In the context of a free country and a free job market, we make most of our own conditions. What we have may not be great. We do face limiting conditions. If you have six kids and no high school diploma, then yes, you’ll probably stay pretty busy just trying to make ends meet. But for most of us? No way. You are where you’ve put yourself. I preach this to you not because I’ve mastered it, but because it’s a message I need to hear every day.

This effort to confront reality as it is explains the title of this post: We have 168 hours in the week, and we’re always living in one of them.

Where were you a week ago? What did you have in mind then for the week to come? What has happened in your world since then? How much control did you try to exercise over it?

In an earlier post I talked about coming up with a “civilizational BHAG” (big, hairy audacious goal). Despite my brave talk, I still haven’t found one–and in fact I’ve shirked looking. But some of the pieces of my week are working better. I’m trying to keep it in mind that this hour–the one in which I’m typing this message and looking ahead to the book review I have to write and the stack of papers I have to grade today–this is as weighty a fraction of my week as anything else, noble or petty.

There are no minor hours. They all count.

What are you doing to nudge civilization in a better direction? Or if not civilization, your own life?

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