Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Life is like a line that is moving ever forward, never at the same speed or in the same direction, but always moving nonetheless. One of my favorite relief society teachers once illustrated this point by drawing a line of her life. When she was finished, the chalkboard looked like my Jr. high textbook covers that I doodled on when I needed something to keep me awake. I can't draw anything more realistic than a sunflower, so I traced squiggley lines over and over again until each of my brown textbook covers were decorated with countless dizzying lines. I rarely had ink-splotched-free hands during those years.

I've noticed that whenever my life line starts to descend at a sharp angle, I automatically start thinking of new things to do, even when I'm already so busy I'm only just keeping up. I pull out old InDesign projects, search for freelance jobs, go to ward activities, check out new books from the library. For some reason, when I spiral out of deep contentment or complete happiness and experience a string of bad days—as we all do—I assume that new busyness will help me rise to the top again.

After work today I rushed home, changed into my comfy clothes, and set out for my daily walk. I tried to enjoy the clear blue sky, the crunchy leaves, and the warm autumn sunshine, but my heart just wasn't into it. 

I turned onto my last street of my 2.45-mile walking route. My gaze landed on a house across the street. Two old men were sitting in lawn chairs beneath an enormous tree that had shed thousands of pinkish-red and burnt-orange leaves. An old woman opened the front screen door carrying three mugs filled with (I assume) a hot delicious beverage. She carefully handed a mug to each gentleman and then sat in the vacated seat next to them. She clutched her own mug, perhaps smiling at a gruff thank-you from one of the men, but I got the impression that she was smiling because she couldn't help it.

Witnessing that simple scene was enough to remind me that busyness is an obstacle, not a means to an end. It's a barrier that forces our life lines to swerve out of alignment. The world would have us think that if every second of our lives isn't being logged toward work, hobbies, volunteer work, or some other worthy busyness, then we aren't doing enough to justify the precious time we've been given.

Then I watch a wise old woman relax on her front lawn, holding a mug that will soon be too cold to be called a "delicious hot beverage," and I realize just how wrong that ideal is.

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