POV: Busy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

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.

--

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.

--

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

12 comments:

Bekka said...

I love this and I love you! I am just coming off a nearly 15 hour day and feel surprisingly calm. Getting old is great.

Sophie Hamer said...

That moment, Friday evening after a week of productive, exhilarating, exhausting mayhem, when the sun came over the brow of the hill at such an angle that as I cycled homewards all I could see was the intense light I was moving into: that moment was worth it all. Being busy isn't so bad, but remembering to breathe is where the beauty lies.

Sarah Ann Noel said...

LOVE this.

Shoko said...

Thank you all!

Sophie, that's beautiful.

burntfeather said...

It all sounds like the best kind of busy to me :)

max said...

lovely lovely lovely.

paw said...

Superb. I am not a robot.

cary said...

Love this.

Kathy said...

This is wonderful. I loved every word.

Tori's Tales said...

Everything you share knocks me off my feet, my dear - I cannot quite say how much I adore you, the words have yet to untangle themselves from my tongue, but my goodness please know that it is so much. You are special. And this beautiful stories - of Dash, of the wanting to shut ones eyes, but of having them opened again by the strength with which your friends spoke? Just fantastic.

kwakie said...

this brought tears to my eyes. i feel like one of the hardest (and best) things about growing up is realizing that things you once felt would be the end of the world ... aren't. and that there is a freedom in surrendering our need or even desire to control our circumstances, because we no longer have to be afraid that we're not strong enough to survive them.

Shoko said...

Thank you all so much. Kwakie, beautifully said.

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