The past two months have been remarkably busy, but not necessarily productive. I’ve been trying to keep the big picture in mind, but I have so many unfinished projects that it’s hard to make progress on any one thing. It doesn’t help that the Big Picture is still a bit fuzzy.
We have a modest 1950s ranch house, that we’ve updated completely over the past 8 years – new roof, gutters, furnace (oil to natural-gas conversion), hot water (to an on-demand system), electrical (new panels and now a grid-tied solar system), new insulation, flooring, paint, bathroom, kitchen. Some work we’ve hired out, some I’ve learned how to do. Johan Le and David Horsley reworked their Portland bungalow over many years, saying,
House done, life over.
I don’t need the house to be “done” but I would like to turn my attention to more interesting things than constant construction. I’m tired of playing ‘bedroom-Tetris’ as I remove poorly-chosen light-colored carpets and replace them with pet-proof wood. Yet, an untimely knee injury has delayed the project by a month, and I’m getting frustrated by not being able to put things in their rightful places.
It seems that complaining about how busy you are is a national past-time. “Busyness has acquired social status,” reporter Brigid Schulte noted. I know you’re spending too much time on Facebook posting the minutia of your day, the meals you cook, the little-league games you attend. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, but we don’t need to document and share everything, unless you’re Samuel Pepys.
What should I be doing instead? I’ve half-a-dozen ideas for books to write, articles to pursue, infographics I’m working on. None of which particularly get me further on the path of a paying career. At present, I’m daydreaming, inspired by Debra Prinzing’s Slow Flower movement, imagining starting a cut-flower farmlette business. The tower of Market Gardening and Cut Flower Farming books teeters at my bedside, the minutia of how to grow, process, and price cut-flowers and planning succession crops with shrubs, bulbs, annuals and perennials fills my waking hours (especially those hours stuck in traffic driving both kids to school).
My to-do list now exceeds one page. I know now that I need to cross off anything extraneous, anything that doesn’t specifically color in one part of our Big Picture. We’re too busy being swept along to school events (two different schools, sigh), to grocery stores (two different stores. Seriously? WTF?) It’s time to be more Mustachian, to live more deliberately, to move the family purposefully down our chosen path, not be swept along by events scheduled by other people, or weighed down by self-imposed busy-work. I’m sure our Big Picture will become more clear without the physical and mental clutter. A dear friend of mine shed many possessions and moved her and her family to Belize for a year, to live more simply. She explained, as does KJ Dell’Antonia,
I Refuse to Be Busy
Enough moping. It’s time to get moving. But only on tasks that matter.