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Beware the Barrenness of a Busy Life

Jun 17, 2014 // By Marcus Brotherton
lunch break

“Lunch break” by DAJ.

 
Every year since starting this blog, I’ve stopped regular postings for a few weeks at the beginning of each summer, and then started them up again in late August.

This year I’m going to do the same.

I won’t stop working during this time. I won’t lie around in the backyard drinking root beer floats for 8 weeks, although that would be nice.

I’ll just do slightly less work. I’ll do more work with my children while they’re home from school. I’ll finish some projects, and start some new ones. I’ll travel two or three places where loved ones live. I’ll look at fireworks and the lake nearby. And once, just once, somewhere deep in the heart of summer, I’ll pull my car over to the shoulder on a lonely two-lane road in the heat and the dark, switch off the headlights, and look at the stars.

How about you? Can you press pause on whatever you can, wherever you can, and use these next few weeks to cultivate some more margin in your life? Can you purposely strive to recharge?

Is that difficult for you? It is for me.

Right now, it feels hectic—tension-filled, even—to even think about slowing down, to prune the branches of the trees that have grown too long and are now touching the house.

And therein lies the EXACT paradox I want to address. I know that by doing less, I can actually do more. By doing fewer things, I can do them well. I just need to take a step forward and begin.

Here’s what some others have said on the subject:

 

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
―Emerson

“Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”
—George MacDonald

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
—Jesus, in Mark VI:31

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
—Socrates

If you’re brand new to this blog, then please take a few moments to peruse the archives, and read a couple of articles that look beneficial to you.

If you’re wondering what’s next in the publishing schedule … FEAST FOR THIEVES, my debut novel, will be released this September 1st. Click HERE to see the editorial reviews (they’re stellar!) and to read the first chapter. Thanks in advance for ordering the book.

See you soon.

–Marcus

 
Question: What do you plan to do—or not do—this summer?

 

 

  • Gary Sedgwick

    Marcus: Enjoy your summer break and let me know if you are heading for Central California. Lynne and I have been very fortunate over the years, but the our health, which isn’t too bad, but slower, is limiting what we can do. We had four trailers at Morro Bay, two hours from Lemoore and on the ocean, for 40 years and had many trips to the coast on weekends or weeks during the year. It was great fun with our two
    kids while growing up. Lynne had only two weeks per year of vacation so I also taught summer sessions for the college. Our plans for this summer is to stay around home and read, dine out with me WW II vet friend, maybe watch several baseball games( A or AAA games), couple trips to the coast in the early fall, and visit friends in Vegas. I do not care for Vegas but they are special friends and we stay 20 miles north of the strip to be close to their home. He is also retired Navy. I plan to call my older grandson to attend a game this Thursday before the nights are toooooo hot. He is a great sports fan and fun to talk with about different sports. Each day is a blessing and hopefully have the health to enjoy each day regardless of what we do. I would like to do more around the home but a second left knee replacement may be a reality very soon. THAT WOULD NOT BE A HIGHLIGHT. I ENJOY WHAT YOU SEND TO US AND LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR NEW BOOK. I AM NOW RE READING “THE UNTOLD STORIES FROM BAND OF BROTHERS”. I NOTICED DORTHY BROTHERTON IN THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. I FOUND THAT PAGES 245-47 REGARDING MICHAEL SOBEL’S DAUGHTER EXTREMLY TOUCHING AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ. LOOK FORWARD TO FALL AND FOOTBALL.
    GARY

    • Marcus

      Gary, thanks always for your comments and thoughtful replies. Glad you appreciated Mike Sobel’s article in ACOH. All best to you and Lynne.

  • Travis

    That’s a great discipline you have put into place Marcus. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th Anniversary today and we were talking this morning about what really matters and whether we are focusing on those things that will matter in the next years of our life. We talked about how when you are young, you are focusing on getting a home, starting a family, growing your career. Pushing the “pause” button will help to ensure and re-align your inner compass. I pushed the pause button on Friday, leaving my job to start my own business (Maybe ‘pause’ is not the right term :-)). My goal is not to build my own kingdom, but to be able to have the flexibility to serve, give and experience at a manageable pace. Part of that is to establish a day a month to be still.
    I was visiting with a great uncle (88) this weekend and saw a glimpse of where I want to be. His wife passed away a few years ago, but that has not stopped his activity. He excused himself for awhile during the evening as he had a few “pray chain” calls to make. And he still drives into town 3 days a week to visit mostly home-bound seniors. Eighty-eight and still in the race, I love it.
    So I plan to work hard, focus on family and build relationships this summer and enjoy the blessings of this season of life. Sounds like you are too- Enjoy!

    • Marcus

      Travis, happy anniversary. A quarter century is a real accomplishment! And congrats on the new business–always a big task. Sounds like you’ve got your priorities well examined and set straight. –MB

  • Toby

    Marcus – Thanks for helping us keep things in perspective. I plan to spend more time with my family this summer. Through the years, I’d always kept my eyes on the end state rather than the journey. It’s such an empty feeling to realize, when the time is up, that I’d missed so many moments. It’s exponentially so now that I have children. Watching them play, I realize just how big they’ve gotten. This thought leads to other thoughts of not remembering younger stages of their lives, because I was simply not there mentally or physically.

    I’m more focused on the journey now and loving it! I had a job transition in September last year and my time away from work is so much more flexible with the new job. This equates to not only more of me physically at home, but also mentally. Can’t tell you how important the latter one is!

    Enjoy the time with your family; focus on the journey. Blessings on your sir!

  • Toby

    Marcus – Thanks for helping us keep things in perspective. I plan to spend more time with my family this summer. Through the years, I’d always kept my eyes on the end state rather than the journey. It’s such an empty feeling to realize, when the time is up, that I’d missed so many moments. It’s exponentially so now that I have children. Watching them play, I realize just how big they’ve gotten. This thought leads to other thoughts of not remembering younger stages of their lives, because I was simply not there mentally or physically.

    I’m more focused on the journey now and loving it! I had a job transition in September last year and my time away from work is so much more flexible with the new job. This equates to not only more of me physically at home, but also mentally. Can’t tell you how important the latter one is!

    Enjoy the time with your family; focus on the journey. Blessings on your sir!

  • Marcus

    Toby, thanks so much for your comments. Good stuff all around. –MB

  • Thanks for the reminder to take a break and relax once in awhile. We’ve been lied to that we must be go, go, go… This lie has caused far too much trouble.

    • MB

      Joe, well put, “This lie has caused far too much trouble.” Thanks.

  • Nick

    A very valuable post Marcus! Today our lives are generally very demanding, as with advent of the E-World there is an ever increasing pressure to keep up, to be involved, to not felt left out, to be seen as been up with the play. This can place people of under considerable duress! So accepting that life is busy, one of the most important lessons that I have learnt, which comes through the study of Mindfulness, is to make sure that you live in the moment…………now what does that mean? Well for me its the following – Of course we need to plan but we cannot actually know what we have planned to do tomorrow will look like until we get to it. We can learn from our own past and history and try to ensure we make the most of what we have learnt but we cannot change history. So by living in the moment, as I am in writing this post, I give a 100% attention to it. Living in the moment is everywhere, when reading a book, being with family or friends, eating a lovely meal and savouring each mouthful, enjoying a walk, being attentive when having a conversation whether in person, on the phone, by email or Skype or through any other medium, concentrating on a business proposal at work, working out a strategy for work or family or yourself. What living in the moment does is to not allow our minds to become distracted via thoughts that take us away from what we should be fully attentive to and the more attentive we are the greater the depth of feeling, experience and learning.
    Here in New Zealand the winter is upon us, albeit very mild one at present! So day light is shorter, so I make time to go the beach at weekends or rise early and take the dog for a walk to watch the sun rise. As daylight is short during the week weekends become more important for outside activities but most of all I try to be fully attentive and present in all that I do each day!

    • MB

      Nick, well said, thank you. Glad to make a connection in New Zealand too!

  • Sam

    I’m going to be writing my phd thesis. It sounds daunting but it actually will give me more time to indulge my passion for reading.

    I just finished a great book about an untold SAS soldier called “No ordinary life” a great read.

    Thanks for continuing to blog always enjoy your posts! See you in the fall?

    • MB

      Sam, good luck on your thesis. All best–MB

  • I plan to go on a 2 week holiday in Spain with my girlfriend and baby. I will leave behind my laptop, and will not stare at my iPhone as we seem to be doing way too much these days. I am planning on reading a lot of books and magazines I did not have the time for these last couple of months. It sounds like a silly thing, but sometimes I feel I am living more “online” then in my real life. I am planning to change that. I already start doing that, but to really disconnect for 2 weeks or so will be really nice. Enjoy your summer Marcus! I am really looking forward to read your upcoming book as well. Best wishes from Copenhagen, Denmark!

    • MB

      Yuri, sounds like some great plans. Enjoy your summer!

  • David Tindell

    This will be a summer of achievement, family get-togethers and weddings. My parents’ two oldest grandchildren, my middle brother’s older son (July) and my daughter (September) will be getting married, in LA and Boston respectively. I’ve already attended a Brewers baseball game with my son (last weekend in Milwaukee) and we’ll see the Badger football team’s home opener in early September. Somewhere in there my wife and I drive over to lower Michigan to visit our master instructor’s dojo for our black belt tests in the art of ryukudo kobujutsu. And working around all that stuff, I’ll be promoting my new novel, working on my next one, and helping Marcus launch his new novel. Yes, it’ll be busy, but fun and productive, too.

    • MB

      David–congrats on all the happenings! And thanks for your support! –MB

  • David Miller

    Awesome post, sir. In a day and age where we are CONSTANTLY distracted by screens, this rings truer than ever.

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HI, I'M MARCUS BROTHERTON,

the bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books. Welcome to my blog. Thoreau pointed out how too many people lead lives of quiet desperation. Their lives are bland and meaningless, or they make choices that trap them in despair and darkness. By contrast, I want to help people lead lives of excellence. Meet here regularly for powerful stories and insight into how to live and lead well.