Not busyness

It is not busyness that eats the life out of the soul, if busyness means simply having lots to do. To be human is to have lots to do. What wears down the inner life is the impossibility of sustained concentration in a world where everything under the sun is relentlessly, rapidly, even simultaneously presented to the senses with demand for some kind of response, though no response is expected. It’s the bewildering fragmentation that accompanies unlimited access to everything. It’s the barrenness that results when one’s most significant contact, quantitatively speaking, is with virtual reality, insulated from the solid pleasures and stubborn challenges of pre-virtual reality: back porch conversation, rainstorms, weeds, machinery parts, street beggars, and handheld musical instruments. It is the lethargy, the listlessness that breeds when all is instant (or trying to be), when one has forgotten how to be deliberate, and to write in pencil. It’s not busyness that eats away the soul; it’s the acid of catered sovereignty, of dwindling finitude.

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