There was this article a couple of months back that made its rounds in social media circles, all about the "Busy Trap"--the fact that being overly booked and scheduled and worked and committed has basically become a social ill, where we collectively push each other to be so busy that we hardly have room for friends, pleasure, deep breaths, a meal uninterrupted by phone calls, texts, or that nagging sense that we better hurry up and get to the next thing that needs doing. Basically, the author asserts, we've voluntarily whipped ourselves into a collective frenzy of (often purposeless) activity as a way of protecting against that ever-present anxiety that if we stopped for a second we might realize just how empty, pointless, and worthless we and our lives are.
I didn't appreciate just how many people asked me if I'd read this article, with a knowing nod of the head. No, I'd answer. I haven't. Some of us are too busy to read.
The thing is, for the most part, I love my busy life. Or I should say--I love the different things that comprise my busy life. I can't imagine giving any of them up. (Except, of course, my job, but then I know from my clients just how time consuming and tedious and life-sucking going on public assistance can be, so I'm not sure that would solve much.) I'm very, very lucky. But I also fear that if I don't find some way to slow down and make room, I will a) burn out and be of no use to anyone, b) lose all of my friends for lack of attention (I mean, there are people with babies I have not met yet!), and/or c) Eat all of my meals standing at the kitchen sink, alone, slurping cold pad thai.
So I'm working on it. Little by little. I am starting to set limits for myself. And prioritize. And take breaths. And make room. And make dinner.
Above, the perfect dinner for the cook caught in the Busy Trap. A piece of fish, seasoned with salt and pepper, slapped in a blazing hot pan for a couple of minutes on each side, squozed with lemon, served alongside this quick corn salad (if it's really good corn, which it has no excuse to not be at this time of year, cut out the cooking process entirely and serve it raw with a bunch of citrus, herbs and olive oil), and topped with a chimichurri-esque sauce which comes together in literally two seconds with a quick flip of the vitamix. It's all so laughably fast that with relative ease, I was able to find the time in my busy schedule to sit down with a glass of wine and eat this, one slow, tasty bite at a time. If I can do it, any busy-ness addict can.
The Mouse's Quick Chimichurri-esque Sauce for those not Quite Ready to Retire from the Busy Life.
1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley, or a little bit less
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, or a little bit more
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Healthy dash of dried crushed red pepper
Nice pinch of ground cumin
Salt to taste
Throw all ingredients in a blender. Puree, pulse, or blend to desired consistency. Pour over whatever protein you've grilled, seared, or pan-fried up. Taste. Breath. Taste. Take one small thing off your to-do list. Eat dessert.