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POV: Busy.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.


My two-year-old nephew, Dash, loves to say that he's busy. "I'm busy!" he'll cry, if you so much as look at him while he's playing trains, or turning the pages in a book, or coloring Elmo blue. Then, he'll shut his eyes (which apparently makes young children believe they're invisible).

Last week, I joined him and my brother and sister-in-law on a four-day trip upstate, where we made a pit stop at Dia:Beacon. Enamored of Richard Serra's gigantic steel sculptures, Dash ran through their shadowy tunnels, his tiny boots slapping the ground like snow.

"Look at me," I said, trying to take a picture.

He was watching the reflection of sunlight on the cement floor. "I'm busy," he said, and didn't look up.

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Many of the nights during my recent work trip to Berlin assumed a pattern: I'd get back to my apartment at 8 or 8:30, eat dinner, fall asleep around 11, and wake up again at around 2 in the morning. Some combination of jet lag and the fact that I still had work back in New York was keeping me up at night – literally. I'd work some more and then sleep til 8, when I got up to go to the office again.

The entire trip felt like a dream.

This time last year, I don't know if I could have handled it. I remember working on an assignment about holiday entertaining at 3 o'clock one morning and feeling close to tears. I was overwhelmed, busy in a way that made me want to shut my eyes – like Dash does – and disappear.

This year, though, feels different. In many ways, I'm busier than I've ever been, but I feel clear-headed – and grateful. Much of this change is due to the fact that I like my work, but I know it's also because I'm older, stronger, happier.

Brian Paquette spoke with me last year about the word "busy": "None of us should be so busy that we don't have time to take a step back here or there....if you really are so swamped that you have no time for anything else but work – then you're undervaluing yourself."

I've been remembering that.

Two nights ago, I met a friend for a drink in Nolita. He told me he was afraid he might be losing his job, and I was stunned by the composure and clarity with which he spoke about the future. This was immediately followed by a phone call from another friend, whose boyfriend had recently ended their long-term relationship. "I'm going to be okay," she said, and I believed her.

Later, I walked home, thirty minutes over the Williamsburg Bridge. I had a deadline in the morning, but to be on my feet – busy with other things – felt important. The train passed me twice, rattling by on screeching wheels. But the air was cool, and I felt calm. It smelled like autumn. It would have been a shame to miss it.

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You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much for reading, as always. Photo via my Instagram.
 

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