Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You’re busy, I’m busy, everybody’s busy.  In fact, it seems like everybody’s drowning in busy, busy, busy.

We bounce around doing this, handling that, rushing through our days, knocking off all of our bullets on that mile-long to-do list, steam-rolling through the obstacles, knocking off the challenges and so on and so forth.  Rolling, rolling, rolling ‘til we drop.

But, it’s good, right?  Yup, yup, yup!

Or…is it?


In this TEDxFurmanU talk, “The Busy Identity,” published in 2016, the presenter is Lexie Harvey, then a sophomore at Furman University.  Lexie tells us we need to take a rest.  We need to remember that we are human beings, she says, not human doings.

It got me thinking, this video.  It does, indeed, seem to be the new default for a lot of people.  It’s become a bit of a pissing contest, actually.  “My busy is bigger than your busy.  But, it’s all good…”  (Cue the big grin.)

That “human-Being vs human-Doing” thing has been around for a long time.  It’s a clever phrase that wanna-be wise guys toss around, looking all holier-than-thou.  Another pissing contest.  (Sigh!)

The thing is, humans are not one or the other.  We’re a bit more organic and a lot more integrated than that.  What we choose to Do affects how we Be and the how we Be often dictates what we choose to Do.  There doesn’t seem to be any way around it.

The very wisest of the wise guys and the smartest of the smart guys all agree:  you are (or you become) how you walk in the world.  As Henry David Thoreau pointed out, It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

This irreverent and very silly BuzzFeed Video was published on YouTube in August, 2015.  It does seem to capture the essence of busy quite nicely:

The video was put together by the BuzzFeed Motion Picture video team.  As you probably know already, these guys are the awesome crew that puts together the daily posts on the BFMP’s flagship channel.


Sometimes I think the reason we have gotten so awfully good at doing ‘til we drop is mostly because busy is easy.

That’s right.  Think about it.

When your days are filled to the overflowing with that incredible To-Do List you’ve constructed that is way longer and much more varied than the ones any other two people you know are toting around, who has time or energy to even think about what it is you’re actually doing or who you are actually being?

The Real is, it’s not like our one True Self is sitting in some dark recess of our minds waiting to be “discovered.”  Getting still and doing interior explorations is a very useful and ultimately beneficial set of skills for all kinds of reasons, but reports from the guys who actually did that are sort of nebulous and unclear.

Most of them seem to end up advocating dumping Self in favor of connecting to the Oneness of it all or something like that.  If that’s what you want to do, that’s great, but if you’re a bit more concerned with trying to get to your own meaning and mana your own way, it might not be satisfactory for you.

The really cool thing about being human is that we can be lots and lots of different selves.

The best thing about that is if we’re not satisfied with the Self we happen to be doing at any given time, we can actually choose to grow into some other Self we like better.

“Male B&W” by Nuuna Nitely via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

There’s only one problem.  Growing and changing and transforming ourselves takes time.

As fitness guru Jillian Michaels points out, Transformation is not five minutes from now, it’s a present activity.  In this moment you can make a different choice, and it’s these small choices and successes that build up over time to help cultivate a healthy self-image and self-esteem.

“Beauty of Time” by Hartwig HKD via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Michaels is right.  It takes time to build a new body.  Every wise guy there ever was all say it takes time to build a new self.  It very often takes a lot of hard choices, all made one at a time.

Our “busy” may be just a convoluted, very tiring way to avoid making the changes we need to get to the life of meaning and mana we want.


So what does it take to get to not-busy?

One of the simplest and best ways to get free from busy is a thing ordinary folks can understand and do quite handily.  It’s called “selectivity.”  Its other name is “making choices.”

It’s an old and simple truth:  Time is the ultimate resource.  Time is your life.  In fact, time is all that life is.

The price tag for whatever activity you are doing is time.  That means that for each thing you do, you are paying for it with your life.

“Time Goes” by giulia gasparro via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The question then becomes:  Is it worth it?

I listened once to a conversation among a group of old friends – unconventional outliers all – as they shared story after story of their many and varied adventures.  Laughter and heartful moments piled up and we were all feeling well-pleased with each other.

Then one guy, in a pensive moment, said, “You know what I’d like?  I’d like to buy back all the time I was paid to work for someone else.  I wonder what I would have done with all that time.”

Another put in that he’d buy back the time he had wasted on frivolous distractions that have little meaning for him now.

A third said she would take back the years she had spent following a path someone else had set for her.

The evening ended with an explosion of laughter when another said, “But, guys, look at where we are now!  Hasn’t it been a great life?  If I ever get the chance, I know I’d do it all again!”

And I had to think, as I looked at this madcap crew of adventurers and makers and smarty-pants oddballs and quirky spirits, that every one of them had grown into a marvelous human of one sort or another by choosing again and again to follow their own hearts.

“bliss with a sunshine eclipse heart: marco cochrane’s work, treasure island (2014)” by torbakhopper via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]


Getting free of meaningless “busy” means cutting down and weeding out the extraneous stuff in order to focus time and energy on the people we love and the things we want to do.  Actually, it’s an advanced level of de-cluttering.

Instead of organizing your desk, your room, your house and the rest of your environment, using selectivity you can shovel all the detritus out of your time and your life-doings.  (Coincidentally all the other stuff tends to get re-organized too.)

“Shovel” by Tom Rydquist via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
All selectivity requires is noticing.  Take a look at what you are doing during your day.  (You may even want to start one more list.)

When you’ve got some breathing space, take a look at your list and choose one activity.  Think about it.  Then start asking yourself some questions.

The two most important ones are these:

  • What do you give to this thing you’re doing?
  • What does it give back?

Other things that might be worth asking are:

  • How does this activity feed you?
  • Does it help?
  • Is it inspiring?


  • Does it stoke your fears?
  • Does it bring you down, distorting your worldview or negatively impacting your disposition?

Asking these questions, especially about the things that have become habits or routines, and revisiting the things you sort of take for granted, can help you see what your life is made of.

If you’re satisfied with the results that a particular activity brings into your life then, by all means, keep on doing it.  If not, maybe you want to send it to the recycling bin.

Sometimes as you remove one activity, you’ll notice that a whole chunk of related activities end up in the recycling bin as well.  That’s a bonus.  After a while of doing this you’ll notice that you’re starting to breathe easier.  You’ve got more time to do the things you’ve decided to keep.  Life gets more interesting and more fun.  You can enjoy yourself and savor the life you’ve built.

“The World Around Me” by Akhilesh Ravishankar [CC BY-ND 3.0 Unported]
Give it a shot.  What do you want to lose?

Here’s a poem:


There’s a thing going ’round these days;

The Do-Bug is its name.

If you don’t watch out, it’ll get you too

And you’ll never be the same.


Your eyes get red from the strain

And tics make your face twitch.

Your ears are blocked by a roaring

And you start acting like a witch.


Your body moves in fits and starts

Your stomach will lurch and roll,

And your heart will shrink to a peanut

As it drains your innermost soul.


Your hands reach out like claws

That hold on to things real tight,

And your legs can’t keep still…

You want to run out of sight.


You hurry-scurry in a flurry,

Rushing here and there,

And you never stop to ask yourself

The how, the why, the where.


It attacks all your nerve endings.

It festers in your brain.

And as it progresses,

You frequently go insane.


Do this!  Do that!  Do the other!

Do it for this cause or for that!

Do it now or lose forever!

Why’d you do it, you dirty rat?


The Do-Bug latches onto you

And shakes your fundament,

Makes you think you’ll get to Heaven

And it’ll use you until you’re spent.


The cure is very simple.

There’s no need for pills or booze.

Just stop whatever you’re doing,

Let be, and take a snooze.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Hurry” by Christer via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

18 thoughts on “DO-BE, DO-BE, DO

  1. I loved this poem. It’s witty yet deep.

    I heard a saying recently, something along the lines of how we cannot always control how we have to spend our time, we should choose to control how we spend our energy instead.

    This poem made me remember this again.
    Bravo to more naps!

    1. Hey Tracy:

      Thanks for the visit.  I’m glad you liked my poem!  Snoozing can be the coolest kind of cruisin’, I say….

      Please do come again.

  2. Greetings Netta! Such a refreshing website, Do-Be, Do-Be, Do is such a great article.

    It is a relief finding people like you, who are concerned with helping others to regain the awareness of our moment to moment conscious acts of being.

    GREAT WORK!!!! I am going to go read your other articles now!!! Mind Mapping is such a great tool, Thank you!

    1. Hey Jackie:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Please do read more.  I hope you enjoy it.

      And do come again!

  3. I love your poem 🙂 

    I read your post a couple of times because it was making me wriggle in my seat. I was a bit uncomfortable. 

    You know why? Because I’m ‘busy’ all the time. And overwhelmed. And never achieve enough. And I was thinking to myself “but I really AM busy – I’m not making it up!” And hey we all are. 

    Last weekend, despite feeling overwhelmed, I took the kids to the beach and we swam and laughed. That evening we played golf (or should I say *tried* to play golf. I had the best day I’d had in a long while. I don’t worry about the work I hadn’t done, and how much I needed to vacuum the floor. It was quite liberating. 

    We’ll go in another adventure this weekend and we’re all looking forward to it. 

    Thanks for your post. 

    1. Melissa, I do thank you for your visit and for sharing your story.  That is wonderful!  Keep on with that, I say!

      And do please come again….

  4. I enjoyed your article, the videos, and your poem a great deal. I’m bookmarking your site so that I can spend more time exploring later, when I’m not so busy. 

    Right now, my life is not terribly busy. I’m going at a comfortable, steady pace and I am content.

    Nevertheless, something in your article caught my attention and I wonder if maybe I need to spend some time decluttering my time. Maybe I am spending too much time on some mediocre activities and I could be spending more time doing the things I love. 

    I need to ask myself the questions. What is this activity giving back? Food for thought.

    Thank you, Theresa

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Theresa.  It’s always good to step back and take a look at your doings, I think, even when you’re mostly happy with them.  

      The reward, if you follow through with your own feelings, is getting back some more time to do your life your way.  A good thing.

      Please do come again….

  5. Selenity Jade says:

    Humans are always rushing around and being busy in today’s society.  If someone isn’t busy, they’re considered lazy.  If people aren’t working 12 hour days (or 16 hours!!) they’re lazy.  

    I know I find myself unable to sit still and just ‘be’.  I have to be doing something to engage my mind, whether it is simply reading a good book or writing, or something.  I can’t not be busy!  

    It’ll be interesting if in the future ‘being’ starts replacing ‘doing’.  Thanks for the thought-provoking article!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      I am not sure that “being” is ever going to replace “doing,” you know.  However, since they are two sides of the same coin, that’s probably a moot point anyhow.  Us humans do; we also be pretty good too.  It’s part of human, I am thinking.

      I am pleased you found the post thought-provoking.

      Please do come again.

  6. Rodarrick says:

    This is for people like me with thick skins who thinks being busy is truly cool and never truly being busy but using the word busy to serve as an excise for not doing enough and not getting outside the comfort of being busy. 

    Wow! This has given me a new outlook on life and what truly makes us special in what we do. I would really be grateful to share this out to more people. Also, I will try to inculcate the things I learnt here. I live the poem too.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Rodarrick.  It makes me smile.  

      All of us humans are achievement junkies of one sort or another, I think.  How else are we going to know we are alive?  Hee!

      Sometimes, though, the doing takes us away from developing the meaning and mana that enriches our own lives.  It’s a good thing to pay attention to that, I think.

      Please do come again.

  7. Wildecoll says:

    This is really interesting, the most interesting clause I’m able to hold from this article is “Maybe busy is the new lazy.”  This has so many meaning and quality interpretations in it. 

    It’s very true that we most times give the most irrelevant excuse for something that could’ve been done in no time. Having planned one’s day, you’ll be able to select only the important things to be done without wasting to on the unnecessary.


    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Wildecoll.  I’m pleased you found the post helpful.

      Please do come again.

  8. Wildecoll says:

    It’s always funny how people give the slightest reasons just to avoid doing another thing.  It’s very easy to deceive others but not yourself.  We always know we’re not doing what we’re expected to but we tend to justify our decision of laziness by engaging ourselves in useless activities that doesn’t add to our life. 

    Choice of what to do is very important in our day to day Life, I believe it’ll help us make out time for only and only the relevant things and as you’ve said will give us time to focus on our Loved ones.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Wildecoll.  I do agree that choices — knowing you have them and knowing why you choose to do what you do — are really important.  It’s the coolest thing about being human, I say.

      Please do come again.

  9. Roslinecar says:

    I must commend your efforts for writing such an amazing and educative article.  This is really an issue to be discussed because we all happen to be guilty of it. 

    Laziness always come in ways that appear to be suitable and honourable.  You’ll give an excuse to justify what you’ve skipped just to feel ok. 

    I had problem with this when I just got married, and I can say it’s really a bad habit to be too into the Busy lifestyle. 

    I’ve learned a lot, thanks for sharing.

    1. Roslinecar, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      Please do come again.

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