An ode to busyness

My dad, an inveterate tea drinker, drove my mother up the wall with his constant clamours for many a cup during the day and something to go with the afternoon cuppa. Grumbling that she too was growing old, mother nevertheless made him ‘the last cup for the day’ and something spicy and hot to go with the tea. In turn, father would walk to the nearby vegetable vendor despite his knee pain. In various ways like this, they both egged each other on to overcome their own physical discomfort to run the household.

Dad passed on, and the subsequent loss of her hearth and home led to the downward spiral of my mother. Frequent ill-health and consequent lethargy have now turned her into a mere shadow of what she was earlier.

Most of us do better when pushed. Right from childhood, we study better when exams are approaching; we play harder when there is a match or selection for the same; we cook better for our loved ones and our rest time is planned only after the ‘tasks assigned’ to us, either by someone or by our own sense of duty and responsibility, are complete.

In retrospect, my mother was happier when she was forced into busyness as she felt wanted and loved and useful despite grumbling at the vanishing maid or the errant plumber! Simply put, she was happy pottering around at her own pace. This was seconded by a family counsellor when she said, “The best we can all do to keep ourselves healthy is to continue doing work at our own pace but without a break.” She further felt that cooking and other chores keep all our senses, along with necessary motor skills, engaged.

In a lighter vein, one of the geriatric doctors quipped that mental agility was more in the old times as the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, pitted against each other in a war of words, were constantly on the lookout for one-upmanship while the menfolk made themselves scarce by keeping busy.

Today, things have changed. We have Swiggy to deliver food, Urban Clap to keep the house clean, Big Basket for delivering our groceries and other important needs for the house — all made easy by online payment. The nuclear family system and the fondness to have more rooms than members have added more languor and subsequent ennui. Very few identify this lacuna and engage themselves in activities that enhance their quality of life.

To make things worse, most of us are of the opinion that we able-bodied individuals should give adequate rest to the old, infirm and the slow. But then, using busyness as a tool to avoid thinking or to run away from delving into our deep-rooted issues is also contra-indicative to happiness.

Keeping oneself too engaged in a manner that does not give one sufficient time to reflect, recharge and recoup is also equally harmful. The key here is to keep busy and yet take time to smell the roses and admire the rainbow. Walking the fine balance between busyness and leisure is the necessary tool for a healthy and happy soul.

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An ode to busyness

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