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Busy, busy

Do you know any busy people? Are you one of them?

Here’s my pet peeve (and by now you know it has nothing to do with physical pets): people who are busier than you, no matter what. They’re the people who can force you into exaggerating your own busyness just not to lose the busy battle. Or maybe I’m the only one who responds that way when someone tries to convince me that he’s the busiest person in the world (BPIW).

My father used to say: he’s the kind of guy, if you’ve got a bottle, he’s got a case.

I think that translates nicely into what I mean.

You can have 5 classes to teach, 4 deadlines to meet, and a marathon to run, but BIPW will best you every time. “I’m doing all that, AND I’m expected in New Zealand any minute,” he’ll say. To which I’m tempted to respond, “I just got back from there and I’m packing for Greenland.”

I never like myself when I get into that mode of claiming to be a BPIW. It makes me tense about my life and my projects. I’d rather take it easy and think how lucky I am to have many things to do, instead of trying to impress people with my to-do list. That’s what happened last week when a friend came for lunch and announced, “I can’t stay very long. I’m very busy.” No, I didn’t say, “Sorry to keep you from your busyness,” or whip out my own to-do list. But I wanted to.

I had a colleague once who was a BPIW and also a BMIW (busiest mother in the world.) If I came into the office with a new jacket, she’d moan about how she’d love a new jacket, but she had to feed her children. If I went to a movie, she’d complain that she hasn’t had time for a movie since her twins were born. The only way I got her to stop was to confront her with, “Gee, BMIW, you make me very happy I never had children. I’m so sorry you weren’t so lucky.”

Here’s a paraphrase of one of my favorite cartoons: God is on a cell phone, saying “I’m sorry, I can’t. I have to be everywhere.”

Now, that’s busy.

Can You Go Home Again?

Never waste a good rant, I say, so I’m reposting this blog from LadyKillers.

Question: Can you go home again?

Answer: Certainly! The GPS in my car has a menu item: GO HOME.

But that’s probably not in the spirit of the question the LadyKillers asked.

So, I’ll go back to Western Civ, that all-purpose liberal arts course, for a pithy answer. Here’s Heraclitus, one of my favorite pre-Socratics:

No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

That could be the end of it, except for the strange coincidence that an old friend recently posted a video of my hometown, “So Good (The Boston Song)” a “pop anthem” kickstarter project c. 2011.

A nice beat, but to listen to it, you’d think Boston was famous for pro sports and nothing else.

No mention of its Revolutionary War history, the Freedom Trail, neighborhoods like the North End and Southie (remember “Mystic River”?). And no mention of Boston as a center of learning, with 35 colleges and universities, not even including Harvard, MIT, and others across the Charles River in Cambridge. Boston has more than 150,000 students, more than the population of Berkeley, California.

What about the Boston Pops, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, the world-class aquarium.

All of this, and Boston is first known for the Bruins and Fenway Park?

Leave it to me, huh, to go from a Greek philosopher to an anti-sports rant in less than 300 words.