Over the past few months, I've really come to loathe the concept of busy--mostly when it comes to being too busy to see when other people need you. I do think it's important to fill one's life with important pursuits, like education and a career, but when they start to take up so much time, energy, and thought to the point where you can't see when and where you are needed to help, you are too busy.
In my current living situation, busy seems to be a constant, daily, even unavoidable struggle. My roommates lead very busy lives. They are gone from the apartment before the sun is awake until the sun has gone to sleep. Actually, this is only true depending on the season, so I guess they just leave really early and get home later in the evening, around dinner. Dinner is something quick, then they hit the books. There's no time to talk and connect. I find myself starving for someone to just visit with. We could talk about anything. But, they are too busy.
And sometimes, it's all too obvious that they are too busy just to chat and catch up. One Sunday, I had just arrived home from work. My roommate asked, "How was work?" I told her an interesting story about how we hold LDS church services at work for the students. As I sort of segwayed into the Christian church services, she piped in clearly confused with details from the first story and the second story all jumbled. I explained, but her response was, "Oh, I'm not really listening."
Ouch. At this point I noticed she had her computer open and school work all around her. Why did she ask about work if she didn't really want to hear about work? Unfortunately, that's not the only time I've heard "I'm not listening" from roommates in my apartment.
I just want to repeat something important: Education is important! Careers are important! But loving others and genuinely caring for others is eternally more important.
I think President Dieter F Uchtdorf summed up my feelings pretty well in the most recent General Conference:
"Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.
In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.
Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories."