I read this article on busy-ness a couple of weeks ago and Bryan and I have discussed it several times since. We talked about it again this morning and I've been thinking about one point the author makes in particular today.
"Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. They come home at the end of the day as tired as grown-ups. I was a member of the latchkey generation and had three hours of totally unstructured, largely unsupervised time every afternoon, time I used to do everything from surfing the World Book Encyclopedia to making animated films to getting together with friends in the woods to chuck dirt clods directly into one another’s eyes, all of which provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life."
I've been thinking about the free hours I spent a child and what that means for me. Is that who I should be or what I should do? What did I do in particular?
I guess it depends more specifically on the age. When I was small I played with dolls and dollhouses. Making up stories and playing house. Decorating and redecorating the houses (I had several), arranging and rearranging my dolls lives. As I got older I made friends and we rode our bikes around the neighborhood. Playing in ditches, swinging, jumping on trampolines, or just feeling the wind in our hair as we rode along. Sometimes though I would write stories. I guess I was too old for dolls so I wrote down what I would have imagined for them. Horses, camps, boys, clothes.
Does how I spent my free time as a child reflect on who I am or who I should be? Should I find a career making up stories, decorating houses, or playing in ditches? Okay, actually, it sounds kind of fantastic. Besides the ditches part.
But I do a fair amount doing things I avidly avoided as a child. Cleaning the house, gardening and yard work, helping in the kitchen. Some of these things I have to do out of necessity as an adult. I don't like to clean my house. But I do like gardening. I do not like yard work. I like food, therefore I enjoy making something delicious.
One thing is for sure, though. I am eternally grateful for the free time I had as a child. Children these days are not given the freedom that I grew up with. To spend hours on end doing whatever they want, generally unsupervised and the freedom to do it. Children these days seem to have such a structured, safe life. I feel sorry for them. Will they know who they are? What they like to do and what they don't like to do? Will they know how to sit by the creek and just watch the water float by without feeling like they are missing something or should be doing something else?
In our discussions this morning Bryan was talking about one strength of a good leader is knowing what his/her strengths are and focusing on those. I may not know what my strengths are yet in the work place, but I do know one strength I have is to relax. To know when and how to relax. I'm thankful for this skill as I see so many people these days wear themselves out. May I never fall into the "busy trap."