When Being Busy is Good
More often than not we can be found running around and rushing from one task to another. When people try to stop us we announce quickly we're busy and dash on. Minimalism is designed to conquer this - dashing from one task to another can render us disconnected from the world around us and so to engage with it more we must slow down, switch off and begin to live. To shun being busy we must look at our schedule and search for blocks of time which we can cancel unimportant commitments in exchange for time with ourselves. This is what I write about daily, however there is one exception to this and it's when you're struggling with grief.
In January 2012 I lost my mum, she was 39 years of age and I was 19 and in my second year of university. I had to cope with trying to go back to a life the way it was when it was never going to be the same, retain the relationship with my boyfriend who six months later would become my fiancé and try to help my dad as the only child who at 42 also has a debilitating autoimmune condition. I'll put my hands up here - life wasn't easy and 18 months down the line it still hurts in same way it did the day she died. Only those who have lost a parent can sympathise with the sheer horror and pain behind the loss but few can sympathise with a loss not only when we are so young but when the parent is too. One of the strongest memories in the weeks and months after mum died as I attempted to pick up the pieces of my life across academia, work and back home was the endless numbers of wonderfully caring people who came over to try and console me - these people had usually lost a parent in the last few months or years too and so they felt for me, the only thing is they were all in their forties or older, an age my mum didn't even get to and so despite their efforts to console me there was always a gap in understanding.
Being busy over the past few months is probably what has saved me - it's been a strange eighteen months in which I've written and had published two books, I launched and now run a cupcake business called Lucy's Sweet Treats and I started and run another business called Book Corner UK which ships books both new and old across the UK, Europe and USA. I've got engaged and continued at my university part-time as I studied for a qualification to transfer into the Pharmacy degree at the same university. I've also maintained a part-time job in the university library and moved back to my hometown into a house of our own where I commute daily to belfast. Many would say that this is simply too much to handle, many do but being busy when you are in the heart of grief is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Yes it has had its own downsides where I have nearly crashed and burned on a few occasions but few understand the emotional mechanics behind loss until they are forced to experience it. When we lose someone very close to us we are left with this overwhelming amount of emotional energy - a supply which lasts for months or even years and it can feel a bit like a haze over the hurt. We can also use this energy for any number of things which we proactively choose to do - we can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can steal, you can do any number of things - however you can also choose to do something positive with this. You can use it to put your heart and soul into entering a new career, use it to write a book, start a business and just start something new. Using this energy for something positive and focussing it towards a project which can keep you busy but of which you are also passionate about from start to finish can be one of the best decisions you ever make in the tunnel of grief.
Being busy in the grand scheme of things isn't always a good thing but when we are grieving it can be one of the best decisions we ever make - focussing negative energy into something positive can keep you going, years down the line it can also make you stronger but in the short-term it's about surviving the now and getting to tomorrow, the day after that and then the day after that. As a minimalist writer I don't write often about the advantages of being busy but it's important to know that they are there and there's a time and place when being busy can save your life.