The Trap of Being Busy

The saying goes: “Time is of the essence.” That is to say, the timeliness of events is paramount to their success.

Such an attitude is deeply ingrained into people’s time at Amherst and in the ways they interact with each other. Just look at the way that we greet one another. The typical “hi, how are you?” is most likely to be followed by some variation of a lackluster “fine, thank you” and a subsequent complaint about how busy we are leading up to spring break. When we get up from meals or a table at Frost or even in our rooms, the conversation often turns to the question, “Where are you going after this?” We are always in transition, looking for the next place to be. And thus, time becomes a precious commodity that we are always grasping for but never can seem to quite capture. We are constantly aware that we are busy and that we do not have enough time.

The danger in this practice lies in the fact that time becomes a limiting structure rather than one of potential. People ultimately do only what is mandatory and convenient. Anything outside of classes, practices and mixers becomes a burden that is too heavy to bear. In fact, the lack of time becomes an easy excuse. We perceive ourselves to be so busy that we could not possibly watch an internationally acclaimed speaker who came to campus, attend an event in Keefe or even do the things that we enjoy, like spending time with friends.

What is important to remember is that this attitude has wider repercussions that extend beyond ourselves. When everyone perceives that they themselves are too busy, nobody actively takes initiatives to improve our campus. We complain about the narrow social life here, but we create no alternatives to address our concerns. Instead, we passively go from place to place out of habit, finding ourselves stuck in the haze of our busyness. In our minds, we do not have the time to reimagine and construct what could be. We fall into the trap of passing through what is.

Living like this can quickly become an all-consuming, exhausting exercise that makes Amherst even more difficult. The Editorial Board encourages students to re-evaluate how this idea of “busyness” consumes their lives. After all, time is of the essence, but it should not become our essence. We need to understand our time here not as a series of actions that keep us busy, but as an opportunity to grow and enjoy life.