David Trinko: Busy is a choice you make

Busy is a word we all use this time of year.

I find it helpful to ponder whether that busy is an adjective or a verb, as that distinction probably answers how happy you are about it.

At the risk of going all grammarian on you, the adjective busy means having a great deal to do, according to the Oxford dictionary.

The verb busy, however, takes on a really sinister turn, meaning to keep occupied.

There’s nothing wrong with being industrious and finding plenty of meaningful ways to spend your time. How many of us fall into the trap of the verb, though. I often busy myself by picking up unnecessary tasks or making wasteful decisions of my time.

When someone claims to be too busy to do something, they’ve really made a choice to do something else instead. They’ve made a value judgment that an outsider can agree with or disagree with, but it’s still a valid choice. People who say they’re held hostage by their schedule are lying to both you and to themselves.

I pondered that as we looked ahead to our weekend schedule. One of my daughters is in a school play, which has dominated her schedule lately. She’s missed out on other opportunities and even other commitments because she wanted to be part of this musical production.

It’s easy to feel trapped by those when you look at your daily schedule. Commitments pile up like garbage bags the day before trash day.

The important thing to remember is they’re all choices. While I spend a lot of time in the car driving children to or from events, I can’t be put out by that. It’s a choice I voluntarily made. I eagerly and willingly run the kids to and fro, especially since I know my wife prefers to just remain in one place once she’s home for the day.

I busy myself (using that verb) to help my kids enjoy everything on their busy schedules (using the adjective).

I could just as easily choose to not do these things. I could tell my children if they want to do things, they’ll have to find their own transportation there. I could schedule my own life so chock full of activities that there’s never time to play taxi cab driver.

That isn’t a life I want to live, though. I want to be a part of the children’s activities and daily lives, even if it’s just for five minutes here or there in the car. That’s a choice I’ll make over and over again.

I urge you to think about this throughout the holiday season. It’s so typical to talk to friends and family by explaining how busy you are with chores, work and activities. It’s more honest to say you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing.

Anyone who’s met me in person knows when someone asks me how I am, I like to use vague answers, like, “I’m living the dream.” Honestly, based on my choices on how busy I choose to be, I really am living that dream, doing exactly what I choose to be doing. You could be too.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.