The Problem With Having Too Many Responsibilities
Adults’ lives seem to go by very quickly because of all the chores that distract them from their inner life. Adults pay taxes, apply for mortgages, climb corporate ladders, and attend superficial social functions. Their lives are structured, so much so that even their vacations follow a schedule. And yet, even though taking on responsibilities appears undesirable, adults become dependent on them. How many working mothers, for instance, embody the cliché of the harried modern parent, simultaneously preparing breakfast for their kids, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, and checking their makeup in the mirror before leaving for work? Even if they were to rid themselves of all their responsibilities for a day, they would still be unable to relax because of their need to be “busy.”
“Busy” itself has become a fashionable word, indicating a dedication to the external world and a loss of touch, at least temporarily, with one’s self. Because our society can demand a lot from us, and because executives and dedicated working parents have been glorified in the media, it is easy to embrace the stereotype of the “busy person.” Yet more often than not, this persona is a cover-up for a discomfort with self-reflection. It has become very difficult to be alone with yourself; hence the popularity of mind-dulling drugs.
I cannot excuse this state of affairs as inevitable, saying passive things like “Well, what can you do? Life happens.” That’s precisely the point: life does happen and it is a sacred thing – it deserves to be remembered. If you overcommit yourself, the days of your life will fly by you, unexamined and unrecognizable. It is a basic human instinct to contemplate existence, to dream, and to fantasize. Yet we are stuck distracting ourselves.
People would be far more content if they devoted more time to self-reflection. I feel that there are four basic ways to spend time: goal-oriented time spending (work, school, sports, games), emotional immersion (friendship, love), sensory gratification (sex, eating, drugs), and philosophical contemplation. The last is the rarest, and one of the most valuable ways to occupy yourself, for it centers you around your existence and gets you closer to your connection with birth, life, and the energy that envelopes everything.
I, like everyone else, am in love with the external life – the one that is filled with subjective judgments and fashions, where people win and lose at competitions, where social rituals can lead to ecstasy or extreme disappointment. Yet I realize its transience. Those who cannot confront the larger meaning of life are avoiding an essential realization – one that can be frightening if it is avoided for years, and, once recognized, can be a calming and satisfying act in all its wonder and complexity.
So do not overburden yourself, take time to think and be, and realize that getting a lot done won’t necessarily make you feel more content. The external world is filled with uncertainties – but the internal world, the one that can only be accessed when the mind is quiet, is the only place where you can truly feel at peace.
Evan Bailyn is a serial entrepreneur, search engine and social media expert, celebrated author and child advocate. His company, First Page Sage, is a leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing - vastly increasing business for its clients through high SEO rankings, targeted Facebook advertising and viral videos. Evan is also the founder of the Evan Bailyn Foundation, a foundation dedicated to teaching emotional awareness to children and adults.