Beware The Busy Beast

The Beast lumbers along beside me always.

She’s been there – oh, ever since about age 24. She’s the To-Do List that runs off the page. She’s a million errands. She’s the partially finished project scattered on the kitchen table.

She’s the stab of guilt every time my eyes fall on a pile of dust bunnies under the couch, or the caked-on grime along the edge of the bathroom baseboard.

The busy beast isn’t very friendly.

She yells, “Go, go, go! Faster! What about that stuff you said you’d do yesterday?”

“How much did you get done today?” she sneers as I brush my teeth in preparation for bed.

The busy beast thinks exercise is a waste of precious time. And she tries all sorts of tricks to talk me out of my morning meditation and writing practice.

“You already slept later than you planned,” she chides me. “You’d better get right to work, you can always meditate later after you’ve accomplished something.”

The busy beast worships accomplishment. It’s like a god to her. When accomplishments pile up they please her, likeΒ  notches on the bedpost of a young bachelor.

But it’s never enough, even before an accomplishment is crossed off the list the busy beast is adding more.

Pleasing the busy beast is a little like running on a treadmill that keeps going faster and faster. She turns it up higher and higher, but then I can’t run any more. I have to jump off and I haven’t met the target.

I’m ready to bid goodbye to the busy beast.

Nothing against getting things done. I’ve got goals. I’m aiming high.

Yet, some funny things have been happening in recent weeks.

It took a while, but now that I’m claiming those morning moments for meditation and writing, I’m noticing a surge of creative energy. I’m getting more done in less time. There’s a new type of fuel, and it’s not the barking commands of the busy beast.

Now, I know she’s not just going to slink away meekly. We’ve been merged for a lot of years now. But I’m getting some moxie now. I’m beginning to stand up to the busy beast.

The last time she sternly reminded me about all the people who are working so much harder than me, I just stuck my tongue out. I went upstairs, away from my office, and began to cut out images to craft a Vision Board.

The busy beast was scandalized! “It’s the middle of the day on a weekday,” she screamed!

But I held my ground. Just gave her the cold shoulder. Actually I gave her the finger.

And guess what? Vision board is still a work in progress – but after a few sessions of pointedly ignoring the busy beast’s frantic waving of the To-Do list I felt a shift deep inside. A tightly closed bud making the most miniscule movement toward unfurling.

Enough of an opening to tell me this:

It’s the Being that nourishes the Doing.

We’ve got a ways to go. The busy beast and I are at a stand off now. She still doesn’t get it.

But soon, quite soon, perhaps we will make peace with each other.

Beast drawing via Dreamstime

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Showing 19 comments
  • Sandi Faviell Amorim

    I resonate so deeply with this post that I almost cried. Busywork keeps us from our brilliance, and it takes work and practice to break that old relationship. You just said it so well Sarah. Thank you.

    • Sarah

      You’ve got that right, Sandi – lots and lots of practice! In fact, I think it might be like exercise – you just have to keep on doing it, day after day. I’m learning to ask myself when I get so busy, busy – is this meaningful work or am I just creating busywork?
      I’m so glad this resonated with you today! I woke up hearing those words, and had no idea how I would write about it – but out it poured.

  • Paige Burkes

    OMG! I love this! Are you sure we’re not sisters or something? It sounds like you’re a step ahead of me on the morning writing habit. That’s my challenge for this month. I feel like I have to explain to my busy beast why writing daily, before the chores and to-do’s, is really a great thing, just like my daily yoga practice (which he tries to argue me out of sometimes). Reading this gives me hope.

    I love your writing style Sarah! Thank you so much for this!

    • Sandi Faviell Amorim

      I’ve tried explaining to my busy beast. Never works! πŸ˜‰

    • Sarah

      So glad you liked this approach to the busy beast Paige. I think Sandi might be right – the busy beast doesn’t listen very well to our explanations. So..we have to get more creative about it I guess. And I think you’re right on it with the morning writing habit! My regular morning writing is more in journal form – and then I don’t always get to the other writing I want to do. But those journal entries plant some seeds for sure.

  • patriciafoy

    Oh, I LOVE this, and I am happy for you. Yay! (And you are such an amazing writer!!!) Thanks for sharing that it IS possible!
    Here’s something kind of similar to your statement from my “about” page:
    “Established in Being, perform action.”
    – Bhagavad Gita
    And the “Being” in my blog name is a verb.

    • Sarah

      Ah, I love that Patti! I didn’t quite get the Being as a verb in your blog title. Of course! That makes so much more sense. Glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for reading and being here!

  • Shantnu Tiwari

    This is very true. I have also felt, the more you berate yourself, the harder everything becomes.
    I was once listening to a talk by a therapist. He said that, the sort of things we say to ourselves (like I’m such a lazy bastard, I’m a fat pig etc), if we ever said to our kids, we would be arrested for child abuse.
    And yet we abuse ourselves like this everyday. No wonder many people feel smaller than a dot…..

    So I like what you’re doing. πŸ™‚

    • Sarah

      Thanks Shantnu for visiting the blog!
      It’s so true that if we were ever to speak to others (much less our children) the way we speak to ourselves everyone would be appalled. And yes, maybe arrested even! You make a good point there.
      I constantly have to remind myself to speak more gently, and sometimes I even yell at myself to do that! But I like to think that each time I get a little kinder to myself. and of course when that happens we can be more genuinely kind to others.

  • bobbiemel164

    This is a REALLY great post, Sarah! I battle that beast, too, and it’s the bane of women everywhere (no offense to the guys, but I think they don’t tend to have this particular beast in their lives usually.)

    I’m so glad you shared your story about standing up to your beast. It helps!

    • Sarah

      I’m so glad this resonated for you Bobbi! I agree that women are more likely to take on this burden, although some guys might struggle with it too.
      I continually have to make an effort to stand up to the beast. Some days I’m better at it than others. But it helps to at least recognize what’s going on!

  • Art Epicurean

    I have learned that by claiming “my time” – I actually am more productive. Especially more loving, more creative and more at peace. Women suffer from carrying that beast way too long. Thanks for a great post.

    • Sarah

      That just sums it up. We need to claim that ‘my time’ – whether it’s a dance class, taking a walk, or just sitting and staring into space. We women have such a hard time being okay with this – but you’re so right, when we do we become even more productive. So glad you enjoyed this.

  • Kaylee

    Okay, this made me LOL so many times. The image of you sticking your tongue out at the busy beast, then giving her the finger? Hi.Larious.

    Thanks for the laughs after a long week. πŸ™‚ And I’m glad you’re kicking the busy beast out of your life! It’s funny, what you’re experiencing is exactly what my meditation teacher said happens. You’re tempted to drop the practice because it takes too much time, but when you meditate, you actually get MORE done (without being stressed!) So, good for you! I hope you kick her ass. πŸ˜‰

    • Sarah

      So glad you got a good laugh out of this Kaylee! And thank you so much for your visit to the blog. I’m still challenging myself to give that Beast the finger every day (and make a distinction between busywork and the work that is meaningful and true to who I am!)

      It’s interesting how this meditation thing works, isn’t it? It goes against all my conditioning to take that extra time – but it has made me so much calmer and more focused. I could probably use some ‘booster’ meditation sessions halfway through the day – but I haven’t been able to tame the busy beast quite that much yet.

  • Claire Kerslake

    LOVE this! I need to remember to meditate and sleep and nurture myself and give the beast the finger a bit more often!

    • Sarah

      It’s all a spiral, isn’t it Claire? We nurture ourselves and realize how good it feels, and then we forget and let the beast take over for a while – and then we’re back again. I really believe that I can produce just as effectively in less time when I make that space in my life for self-care. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply

    This post is terrific, Sarah. I wish to heck I’d written it. (That’s got to be the biggest compliment one writer can pay to another.) “The Being nourishes the Doing.” Amen.

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