i hate the term “too busy.”
for me, right now, “too busy” means i’m currently wearing contacts that should have been changed eight days ago. i have a list of four people i’m supposed to call back; three of which have left me two or more voicemails. my refrigerator looks like I was robbed by the Grinch before his heart grew three sizes that day (minus the things that i don’t want to eat which are undoubtedly rotting in the bottom left drawer, but who has time to check?). my closet light burned out at least two months ago (after I was too busy to remember to turn it off), so now i dress in the dark or occasionally with a headlamp and i may or may not be wearing the same underwear for the second time this week because i haven’t really been in my apartment in 11 days due to dog sitting/work travel/both. that may sound gross, but going commando isn’t really an option when you’re not wearing pants.
it’s not just me. aren’t we all “too busy?” i mean, these days there’s fifteen different ways just to contact someone and you can do at least six of them all at once. you can’t go into a bar without seeing three tvs all with different stations on while trying to enjoy your company which means you’re being stimulated in at least four different ways and that’s only if you’ve managed to keep your phone in your pocket instead of centered on the table waiting for a word alert from someone who isn’t even in the room with you. i can literally stream the new Daft Punk album, pay a bill, and brush my teeth all while i’m peeing (not like I’ve tried it or anything).
of course, “too busy” is often used as an excuse. i’ve personally used it to skirt around giving out my phone number at a bar, ditching plans with someone i no longer care for but don’t have the stones to say so to their face, or avoiding reflecting on things that i just don’t want to think about.
the two year anniversary of my dad’s death was tuesday. i marked it with a relatively generic facebook status after which i cried for maybe 45 seconds before promptly telling myself to get my act together because i was already running late, and a last minute response to an email exchange with my family about some of our favorite Dad memories. apparently, i was too busy for anything else.
for what seems like the entire first year after losing my dad, i was in deep grief, understandably. it was a blur with only certain notable highlights like when i fell (jumped) off a 12 ft bouldering wall one move from the top and ended up in the ER, or when i spent a weekend camping with complete strangers (friendly alcoholics who may or may not have also been drug dealers) just to get away, or when i decided to leave san francisco because i realized i never wanted to have to take a two hour plane ride in order to hug my mother ever again.
other than that, i remember crying regularly in public places like planes, trains, subways, and Disneyland during the big finale water show (stupid lion king “you’ll be in my heart” montage bullshit). that’s not to say that there weren’t great things during that year, and i’m thankful for the friends and family that pushed me towards happiness, but overall, i remember being bitter and sad all of the time. it hurt.
it hurt worse than when i broke my leg on my dad’s birthday or when i got a compass tattoo on the top of my foot. but i always tried to comfort myself because the reason it hurt so. fucking. much. was because i truly loved my dad. i know he loved me back. that’s a pain worth feeling.
the second year was clearer. i cried less. i laughed more. i still thought of my dad on a daily basis, but in a less hurtful way. i remembered more of the good things that made me smile, made me stronger, or both. i stopped letting myself think of the things he’d miss, or the promises we’d made that would never come true, or the fights we had, or any of the bad. i made a conscious decision that the “what-if’s” and the “why me’s” weren’t worth feeling anymore. all things considered, it was a good year, which makes me feel even worse.
there’s an unspoken guilt that comes with losing a loved one. you don’t want to be a complete wrecking ball time bomb of grief, but if you’re not, then are you disrespecting your loss? is it ok to be ok? by laughing and loving and moving on, how much are we losing and forgetting? i don’t want to be sad, but i feel guilty being happy.
i think for me, this is a chance to redefine “too busy.” it’s all about priorities. though i’m too busy to take the snow tires off my car, i do still play outside four times a week, see my mom regularly, and somehow find time to pirate episodes of HBO’s Girls online. so i just need to start prioritizing reflection higher in my life: sending thank you notes, cloud watching, writing, looking through old photographs, stopping on the trail to stick my toes in the river, re-reading favorite books, turning off my phone, getting off the internet, and allowing myself to miss my dad.
in reality, none of us are actually even that busy. anyone who claims to be is just spending too much time on instagram. we need to close our eyes to the infinite and constant stimulation, and get back into our own heads. it’s important we go back to feeling something for ourselves, not for the number of likes we get from announcing it through a keyboard, this post included.
i can’t say that i’ll ever stop feeling guilty the further i get from my dad, but i’m no longer using “too busy” as an excuse because there’s no need for an excuse when you’re actually out living your life somewhere. last time I checked, there’s not an app for that.