Last week I was frantically finishing various projects before flying to NYC for Christmas. I hadn’t sent out holiday cards; and kept thinking about friends and business associates whom I wanted to get together with before I left. Without exception, each person I called apologized that they couldn’t meet up because they were just “too busy.” And secretly I was happy because I was just “too busy.”
While “too busy” is a near-universal refrain, I’ve started to wonder — am I too busy for friends or am I too lazy? If I really wanted to meet with the people I keep putting off for lunch or coffee, wouldn’t I? Am I too busy or have I become sloppy with my relationships?
If any of these people had a business deal to discuss or wanted to introduce me to someone who could offer me work, I know I wouldn’t be “too busy.” I feel guilty because if it’s work related, if I can use the meal as a tax deduction, then I’m not too busy!
I used to teach a class on public speaking at LMU. Midway through the course, I gave the students a seemingly odd assignment. I broke them up into groups of five and asked that they have a meal together. But, there was a catch: they couldn’t eat out or order in; they had to prepare the meal by themselves. If they didn’t have access to a kitchen or grill, they could just make sandwiches. In addition, there could be no electronic distractions, including music. The meal had to last at least two hours and each person had to tell a true story of which they were a part in some way.
Typically, students balked, complaining that they weren’t interested in getting to know new people; they had better things to do and besides, they were just “too busy.”
However, 99.9% of the students were ecstatic after doing the assignment. Typically, they’d report that they didn’t realize how much they had in common with others in the class; that story begat story and before they knew it, the two hours had flown by. Many told me that they couldn’t remember the last time they actually sat while eating a meal and talked to people — really talked.
Although at first they were “too busy” to share a meal, they found the time because this was their work — an assignment on which they’d be graded.
Good food. Good friends. Good stories. You know this is what life is all about. You’ve got just six more days until 2013. Are you too busy to share a meal and tell stories with the people who are the great stories of your life?
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