“How Are You?” “Busy.”

In college we called it misery poker. Who had the most work crowding in on them, blocking out the sunlight. Who had the most papers due, the most tests coming up, the most reading to get done. Who was most stressed. The answer to the question, “How are you?” was “crazed,” “overwhelmed,” or just “ugh.” It began to feel like people should merely give off constant busy signals, the way phones used to do, and save their breath.

It’s not a college phenomenon anymore. Nowadays “busy” is everyone’s default. Columnist Omid Safi calls it the “dis-ease of being busy, where we are never at ease.” He would like us to pause. Breathe. Hit Refresh.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings? … What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be? Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?

The column gets a little woo-woo (I can’t imagine everyone that asks “what’s up?” really wants to know how my heart is doing) but still, his is a good question as we contemplate the upcoming weekend. Short of wiping our memories, how do we slow down?

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