Americans are such obsessive doers that every trend article about how busy we are ends up shoving readers against a wall. We’re tagged as (1) frantic jugglers or (2) bored retirees and empty nesters or (3) energetic sixty- and seventy-year-olds embarked on a "meaningful" second career.
In his New York Times piece “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” Tim Kreider says too many of us rush around boasting about how busy we are in order to fend off existential emptiness. Undoubtedly, some of us do. But what if you aren’t a boasting personality or have a very different definition of what busyness means?
Take, for example, me. Yes, I’m busy. On the surface, I’m in the first category: I have a ten-year-old child and husband and friends. I have parents with degenerative illnesses who live 3,000 miles away. I’m such a frequent traveler that I have Premier status on United Airlines. I teach part-time. And—oh, yes—I run an online literary magazine and nonprofit organization.
Of course I feel "crazy busy" and overextended. I even complain about it. But if anybody in my current life dared to respond with That’s a good problem to have or Better than the opposite (what Kreider calls stock responses that are “a kind of congratulation”), I’d be tempted to slap the glad-hander.