I stumbled on an article today entitled, “The worst word in business: “busy”.” It reminded me of a health and wellness seminar I sat in on a couple of years ago, referring to the fact that we basically use our full itineraries as a crutch. The article, and this seminar, discussed the fact that, if you asked someone how they’re doing, their first response will inevitably be how they’re “so busy”. In many cases, I would even take it a step further and say that we as a culture judge those who haven’t yet mastered the art of appearing busy, because, “don’t they have something better to do than lord it over the rest of us with their ability to not check their phones?”.
As someone who has often lost touch with friends, relationships and (let’s be honest) reality because of my codependence with busy-work, it would be pretty foolish of me to contest the argument of anyone who suggests that this myopic and ego-centric approach to life can be a detrimental way of living. But as someone who has also recently taken a work position that is significantly slower than what I’m used to, I’m not going to lie and say that the transition has been anything close to easy.
During the busier times of life – the times when I would break a glass in the kitchen, only to tip-toe around the broken shards for days – I developed a coping mechanism which has proved quite helpful no matter how many times my iPhone buzzes.
I just imagine Morgan Freeman is narrating everything that I do.
In good times and bad, with friends or alone in my office, I allow Morgan’s cool, crisp tones to wash over me. Slowly, calmly, Morgan will describe the situation just as it is – no more, no less. There’s something both critical and curious about Mr. Freeman’s tone that provides me with a surprising amount of insta-comfort. The man knows how to spew a sentence. His is a tone that is most befitting of my life (well…mine and Andy Dufresne’s), probably because I often feel that I’m just flapping in the wind, and his voice is just so unflappable.
If you choose to adapt this coping mechanism of mine, you don’t have to saddle yourself with Morgan. Selecting a life narrator is one of the biggest commitments you can make, and there are so many talented voices available to you.
For example, if you are overly self-aware and yet feel endowed with a certain intrinsic level of culture, Alec Baldwin is your man.
If you never really grew up, or (let’s face it) grew up far too fast, the tone you seek can be found in the crystal voice of Anthony Hopkins.
Kathleen Turner has a certain asexual quality that’s nice if you want to be simultaneously coddled, criticized and seduced with only one voice in your head.
You would think that David Attenborough would be a logical choice, but quite honestly his tone brings with it a certain level of adventure that the average North American day just lacks, and if you think this applies to your life you probably don’t deserve David. In fact, your self-important ass should really choose Alec Baldwin instead.
Why is this technique so effective, you ask? Because adding a third-person narrative has a way of making you feel small. And I think more people that attend health and wellness seminars and read articles on the internet about how to manage the way they communicate in a business environment need to feel small.
Being constantly tense about whatever situation you’ve put yourself in (especially when that situation really isn’t that bad) is ridiculous. Grabbing lunch or going to the bank is not busy. Going to work and doing the job (for which you get paid) is not busy. Meeting up with a friend or co-worker or client for a drink is not busy. It’s just life. You can choose to spend that life alone, or raising a family, or with a partner, and the daily tasks associated with these choices may vary – but it’s still just life. And if everyone else is too busy to put this into perspective for you, and you can’t see this fact for yourself…
“Sam stopped typing for a moment, raised her head a little, and looked out the window…at all the other lit windows in the city…who were undoubtedly preparing for the next busy day ahead of them.”
…you should probably find yourself a louder voice.