What compels us to keep busy?

To be certain, the why of this question will be different for every person. Some reasons why we are busy might include:

  • excessive responsibilities
  • poor delegating skills
  • demanding family
  • poor time management
  • ineffective work habits

But, the answer to why does not explain fully what compels people to lose the balance and spill over into “too” busy. How does one identify “too busy”?

  • correspondences left unanswered
  • social activities decline
  • common courtesies dissipate
  • rules and process are skirted
  • quality decreases

There could be many manifestations of every one of these. However, I want to focus on just two: correspondences and common courtesies. These two elements outwardly represent who we are to those around us.

What is the first thing you say to a friend ~let’s call her Mary~ who has called you, or emailed you and to whom you have not responded after a long period of time? Does “I’m sorry I didn’t get back with you sooner. I’ve been busy” sound familiar? I bet it does. That message instantly says to Mary that she was not high enough up on your list to warrant a call or email back. Mary, for that period of time, became invisible to you. This is particularly cogent in cases where Mary lives a great distance away and for whom it would be close to impossible to show up on your doorstep for a cup of coffee and to chat or meet unexpectedly at the local grocery store.

Who has time for those activities these days anyhow? Too busy!

Now, think about your chores. You have a list a mile long. You have to go to the gas station, Walmart, maybe the cleaners, the pet store. In all of these places you are more than likely to not only run across the customer service people who ring your products and services up, but you will pass by dozens of strangers. In the parking lot, in the checkout line, in the aisles. How will you relate to them? Are you hyper focused on your lists and too busy to make eye contact or to smile? Do you find yourself forgetting that there are others around you and haphazardly step in front of someone, or bump your cart into someone else’s? Do you notice the people around you at all?

What does it matter? You have to get through your chores before the kids come home from school and all hell breaks loose!

If these situations sound familiar, then you have made invisible all the other humans in your life, both close and remote. Chances are, they have made you invisible as well.

Sometimes invisibility is acceptable, even desired. Obviously, where there is a dangerous person involved you WANT to be invisible. But how do you reliably differentiate between dangerous and benign? You can’t.

When one reaches the level of too busy, in the scope of how we relate to others, we cut back on correspondences with our friends and acquaintances and we become emotionless and insensitive to those around us whom we do not know personally. We make them invisible.

Worse yet, in that process, we ourselves become invisible.

Maybe Ralph Ellison had it right in his book Invisible Man. On page 94, Mr. Ellison writes,

…he has eyes and ears…, but he fails to understand the simple facts of life. Understand. Understand? It’s worse than that. He registers with his senses but short-circuits his brain. Nothing has meaning. He takes it in but doesn’t digest it……Behold! A walking zombie? Already he’s learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity. He’s invisible, a walking personification of the Negative…The mechanical man!

If you have not read this book, that’s good because the context for this particular statement is very different from the thoughts above.

The setting is a negro bar in the mid-1920s. The character speaking is a disadvantaged black man. He is describing another disadvantaged black man. He is speaking to a rich, well-connected white man.

Enough said.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).


2 thoughts on “Invisible

  1. Pam Baldwin says:

    WHEN you find yourself doing the “too busy zombie thing”, it’s time to “dump your plate” cause family and people are the only things that really matter on this earth. Unless you can smile at the cashier, help someone reach something too far back on a shelf or pick up something someone else dropped, you’re RUSHING thru and may miss what God has ordained for your day. God wants us to be in relationship – not only to HIM but to those He puts in our path. Don’t miss all He has for you!!!

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