Dear Busy New Yorker,
You can walk, eat, talk on the phone and hail a cab, all at the same time. You’ve walked down a street lined with restaurants at dinnertime while vehemently complaining that there’s “nothing to eat.” You feel scared or uneasy when you go somewhere remote and rural. And when you have nowhere to be, you’re still in a rush to get there. **
You have a reputation for living a crowded life. And this is not just in reference to the 6 train at rush hour. Your life is marked by a hurried, fast pace in everything you do.
You wake up just in time to walk the dog or get the kids ready before leaving for work. You speed-walk to the subway and push your way through the people exiting to try and get a seat so that you can listen to a podcast or audiobook comfortably.
Sometimes you shorten lunch because you have to meet that deadline. Sometimes you work through lunch altogether. You leave work and head to your second and third job because someone has to pay the rising NYC rent.
You run to the gym to squeeze in a 45-minute workout because you read in one of your e-mail newsletters that exercising 3-4 times a week increases your efficiency. Then you come home to eat, watch TV and get ready for the next day.
In between it all, you are juggling three different group chats, one from work, one with your cousins and one with your friends. You are switching back and forth and sideways in between Google searches, your e-mail inbox and social media feeds. You are always multi-tasking. You define yourself by your ability to multi-task. You call yourself a multi-tasking superhero.
Well, Busy New Yorker – you’re in for a serious reality check. You ready?
You are not a multi-tasking superhero. (GASP) You are not a role model for the tagline that hard work leads to success. (MORE GASPING) You are hemorrhaging your brain and you don’t even realize it. Every time you switch in between activities, your brain is leaking and losing efficiency.
You need to slow down.
You are in a perpetual state of acceleration and it’s all because you don’t want to grapple with the reasons why you keep yourself so busy.
If you are busy, if your calendar stays packed – then you do not have to wrestle with the things in your life that you don’t want to talk about. The things in your life that you don’t want to think about or dig into. You are running from yourself towards a finish line that doesn’t exist.
This accelerated Fast and Furious lifestyle that you’re living is aggressive and unforgiving. You are committing violence against your very soul. And as time passes, if you do not change your ways, you will find yourself committing violence against others too. How can you expect to treat others any better than you are treating yourself?
This letter is dangerously close to five hundred words now, at which point you, the Busy New Yorker, will stop reading if you haven’t already. You live in a scrolling, superficial culture and this essay is not a list type article where you can just read the bullet points.
Moral of the story: The kindest thing you can do for yourself and others in your life is to slow down.
Stop. Rest. Enjoy. Reflect.
Put your phone away when you are out to dinner with friends or family. Learn to sit in silence. Schedule quiet time weekly and treat that appointment with yourself with as much respect as you do your sixty hour work week. Spend time in nature. Pray. Meditate. Journal. Read. Love. Delight.
Revel in existence – you only have one life to live.
Unless you practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism or Sikhism. Then you have many lives to live. But why not enjoy each one that is given to you to the fullest? Just sayin’.
Nia Ita (Fellow Busy New Yorker)
***This is essay 31 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.