Busy/Not Busy, Lonely/Not Lonely

Pink cherry blossoms are hanging off the branches that sprout out of MacLean Avenue. Outside classroom windows are an abundance of green leaves, waving back at you like it knows you’re suffering in 30 pages of an ancient author’s philosophical thoughts or the antithesis of those neverending philosophical thoughts. Spring term is here. Spring term is holding us together like academics and part-time work are all we have left in the world. We’re studying. We’re working. We’re busy. Busy, busy, busy.

In the midst of this busy lifestyle, happiness comes in small gestures. A day of perfect weather suddenly becomes a source of joy. Saying hi to that friend you haven’t spoken to in months suddenly becomes more important to do than anything in the world. People see people. People see nature. Happiness is actually rather simple once you’re busy. Going to club meetings, cooking with your friends, sitting on Bakayama with a good book in hand. Happiness becomes the absence of things that make you feel busy. 

Imagine this — You’re sitting in a meadow under the bright sunlight. Not blinding, bright. It’s warm but not too warm that you’re sweating in that T-shirt you bought for cheap in GU. There are people around you but you’re unbothered by them. Let them do what they want to do. You’re just here to bathe in the sunlight. Maybe you’ve got a book? Maybe you’re sketching all over the corners of your notebook? Whatever it is, you’re alone but you don’t feel like you’re lonely. You’re like a boat in a serene lake, moving slowly towards your destination. Perfectly alone yet surrounded by a pool of water that will never abandon you.

The opposite of this, of course, is the homebody, who can’t stand the idea of even opening the door. You’re curled up in your bed. You have been there for hours but you don’t feel as if you’re wasting your time. You’re on Season 2 of this show your friend recommended to you — it’s this black comedy show with a low budget of 250000 dollars. The show is fire. You can’t stop watching it so you decide to indulge in a cup of instant ramen as your dinner. The opening sequence fills the screen of your 4 year old MacBook. You don’t press skip intro. Life is great and all you can feel is the perpetual serenity that comes with humming along to the theme song.

You open your eyes. Reality drowns you in 30 late assignments and 120 pages of unread readings. You’re annoyed at yourself — How could you waste an entire day by doing nothing productive? But you were doing something. Truth is, you were participating in the act of putting yourself first — of stepping away from the life you have to live. But you weren’t productive in a manner favored by society. Now you wonder why you’re in university. Now you consider the idea of dropping out. However, you can’t drop out. Not in this society, one that runs on the economy. So you stay. You stay and you cope and you hope that one day, it will all be worth it.

We place such importance in hustling, in the grind, that we forget that we were born with limitations. The price we pay to neglect those limitations is too costly for a university student. The cost is time — a commodity none of us can ever afford. Yet, the catch is, being busy and having so little time becomes a source of unity. Being busy is a common point hidden in plain sight, a terrifying yet acceptable truth. No one truly knows how to orchestrate a perfect day to day schedule and there is comfort in understanding that — it means everyone struggles with the same problem, even when they don’t talk about it. This leaves us with the thought of how being busy does not require being alone, the same way being not busy could mean being alone.

What a bittersweet thought that is.

【daphne roan】

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