Monday, March 17, 2014

30x30: Busy is Officially Overrated

For an actor, being busy is very, very good thing. Our project-oriented work is often hard-won. Sometimes there's a lot of it, sometimes there's none of it. So when we have it, we count ourselves lucky.

For a lot of us actors, however, being busy often means working a day-job while rehearsing a show in the evenings and on weekends. That can make for some very long days (16 hours is my record), or weeks on end with no full day off in sight.

I'm in one of those places now. I am currently working a 9-5, performing one show, rehearsing another, and curating The 30x30 Project. Similarly, my husband is working two different teaching jobs - one in the city and one in the 'burbs, producing one vocalist's album, and writing his own. 

While we pride ourselves on our creative opportunities, and are grateful for our work, few things are sweeter right now than those rare moments when there's nothing that absolutely has to get done.

The other night, we were both home in the evening - another rarity - and sat down to eat dinner and watch a movie. As the movie started, he turned to me and said, "This is what we'd do if we were normal people." The most mundane of activities is a real treat for us these days.

I've tended lately to do the thing where I see empty space on my calendar and think, "Oh, I should put something there," forgetting that sometimes you need that space for doing the dishes, or eating food, or stretching, or maybe even sleeping. I'm learning that lesson the hard way, having just recovered from a flu bug in the midst of six consecutive, 14-hour days, and my second bout with the flu this season. The old immune system couldn't keep up with this level of "busy." My own stupid fault.

There's a lot to be said for balance, though throughout my twenties it was never a priority. In my field, every opportunity to work is precious and it's hard to pass on them sometimes. But I'm learning to let some of them go so that I can be a whole, cognizant person instead of the constantly harried automaton that's it's easy to become when I'm too busy. I'm learning the value of empty space on the calendar.

In fact, I'm in favor of everything slowing the hell down. I'd like to motion that America adopt the siesta. How many times has a person asked, "How are you?" and gotten the reply, "Busy!" That response is officially lame because 1. Who isn't busy? And 2. Busy isn't remarkably descriptive. It's the slightly asshole-y cousin of "fine." Busy is no badge of honor.

Next time someone asks me how I am, even if I'm busy, I'm gonna say, "Goin with the flow, G. Goin with the flow." Sometimes (a lot of times) I'm up to my eyebrows in busy; other times I'm not. But whether I'm busy or not, my ideal is to go with the flow - to get done what needs to get done with a measure of ease, grace, and a maybe a smile.

Right now I'm watching a guy talk loudly into his blue tooth, pace, and gulp a latte. He is super busy. I don't want to be him at all.

Original illustration by Isabella Rotman

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