I appreciate a good calendar. I used to keep one on the wall in my kitchen, all covered with tidy handwriting in ballpoint pen.
When my oldest daughter, Abigail, was a toddler, every square was filled in: play dates and park days, outings and appointments, even things like “call L. and A. back” and “library books due!”
Now my calendars are just pretty. If I need to remember something, I set a reminder on my phone and then forget about it.
But when I had just one little person to buckle into a car seat, the squares were all spoken for. Filling up the whole week felt like finishing off a lucky bingo card. BINGO! BINGO! We have a winner!
It didn’t occur to me that all that running around won’t actually get you anywhere.
I just felt important and special because my days were full of stuff.
And then I had another baby.
A few weeks after Owen was born I glanced at the calendar. The squares were all scribbled over right up until the day he arrived, and then—nothing. Blank squares as far as the eye could see. (Which admittedly was not very far because a month only has thirty days, but that feels like a long time with a newborn.)
I could feel my sense of direction seeping right out of me.
I’d thought I had purpose and I’d thought I had plans, but the whole plan was really just “do the next thing on the next square.”
Motion always feels like it matters. And it does, sort of, because movement is a sign of life. Living things are always growing and changing.
But busyness is only a shadow of that kind of movement.
Busy feels important, but it isn’t building anything lasting.
It’s easy to forget. You let your identity and your worth get tied up in the busyness. You confuse who you are with what you do, and you wear your busyness like a badge of honor.
But keeping busy creates days that are full, not days that are fulfilling. That’s not a journey, that’s a carousel.
When I stood in front of that calendar with Owen in my arms and Abigail hanging on my knees I realized: I hadn’t been filling my days with meaning, I’d just been passing the time.
I had to be still before I could even notice. I hadn’t left myself any space to just be.
I was too distracted by being busy.
You don’t need your calendar to give you a sense of purpose. You already have that. It’s waiting for you in the stillness and quiet that comes on the other side of all the frantic activity.
Whether the squares are filled or empty: that isn’t the point. The point is why we’re filling them up in the first place.
My calendar is not a tool to measure my worth. My calendar is a band-aid for my ridiculous memory and a place to find out what day it is today because I have no idea, and that is all.
My worth comes from a whole other place.
My worth comes from a place that has nothing to do with activity and busyness and constant motion.
So I can practice being un-busy. I can practice stillness. (The kind of stillness that involves having small children velcroed to your torso, at least.) I can practice being comfortable in my own skin and in my one quiet life without always scheduling the next distraction.
These days I’m working on this:
Less being busy. More just being.
That’s what I was after all along.