So, life is busy, always busy. And Monica is a masochist. I admitted it long ago. I usually restrain myself to my own personal brand of mental masochism: taking the most difficult classes, hardest majors, most complex subjects. Of course, when I have taken it into the physical realm, such as with fencing and now riding, it also tends to be the most difficult thing I can find for myself, though rarely actually painful. (Except in the case of Pilates, which I love!) And when it comes to my schedule, I invariably manage to make it hard on myself no matter what intentions I start out the semester with.
Thirteen credit hours turns into sixteen. One job into three. A student organization officer slot and a single committee spot just weren’t enough to neglect so I added a seat in the student senate. Special projects bloom all over: the presentation for the conference in Ontario, ideas for starting a Buddhist Campus Coalition, studying Pema Chodron’s teachings on The Way of The Bodhisattva in No Time To Loose, working on that youth leadership paper. The dishes and the laundry and the chores pile up, but not so deep as to be unmanageable. Yet.
But what lurks behind all that purposeful over-scheduling is a fear, a nagging self-doubt, and long seated recrimination. Really, I’m just lazy, and I know it. If I don’t make commitments, I’ll just while away my time reading science fiction novels and watching television. I have to have the commitments to other people, because I’m perfectly capable of breaking commitments to myself. This is the “busy lazy” that Buddhist teachers speak about. I am so guilty of it, but the secret is that I view it as the lesser of two evils, the greater being pure laziness – that lay on the couch all day, eat potato chips, ramen, and cereal, and don’t leave the house, don’t do chores, just don’t do. The way it is so easy to lose myself in a series of novels or a new TV show on DVD, where I can literally spend a week in a fantasy world, sometimes it appalls me. The way I revel in the emotional highs and lows of fictional characters, the suffering and sacrifice and bravery, draws me into almost any story, even the half lame ones. So I stay busy.
In Sakyong Mipham’s book Turning the Mind into an Ally, the two chapters which resonated with me the most were on Laziness and Boredome. I understand that one of the Eightfold Path is Right Diligence/Effort. I seek that in this hectic schedule which I set up for myself, even as I bemoan never getting home before the sun sets and stocking up on Slim Fast because I know I simply won’t have time to eat during the week.
It is a strange compulsion and with each passing semester, each attempt to make it better, I think it gets just a little bit worse. I become busier, even when opportunities abound to do otherwise. I didn’t have to take that seat in the student government (but it had never come available before and may not again). I didn’t have to pick up that extra class (but the Planning Department wanted me to use the fellowship they were so kind enough to award me). If I hadn’t, I might not have needed the third job I’m not seeking (but all the options at least sound interesting). I don’t have to work on the youth leadership paper now (but Sandi has time this semester and it would be so cool to get it published). I don’t have to… (but…).
Good think I love irony and cynical humor, for I shall never cease to be amused with myself.