I'm not sure who - my brother or I - originated that phrase, but it became our childhood tagline when our parents asked us to do something that we didn't want to do. Fast forward a decade and some odd years later and I'm still using it, albeit with better grammar.
A couple years ago, Tim Kreider opined in The New York Times about the busy trap phenomenon; you know, when you try to make plans with someone but they're "too busy" to commit to anything. Kreider's point was that people rarely are as busy as they say. Instead, busyness is a perpetual, chaotic state of mind that individuals delude themselves into existence for various reasons, including self-validation and a crippling fear of idleness.
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. - Kreider
The busy people he describes reminds me of my peers at Stanford; the ones who took the maximum twenty unit course load each quarter, worked out every day, partied hard on the weekends, hardly slept and still managed to pull good grades. It was as if there were a constant, tacit competition to push oneself to new limits. We wore the stress like badges of honor, so it's no wonder that the campus has a drinking problem among other mental health issues. Busy people aren't happy. [Many] Stanford students aren't happy.
I've been relying on the busy excuse a lot over the past months, using it to justify not writing, not exercising, not going out with friends, etc. It's not that I don't have the time to do these things; I just have a weird schedule such that my leisurely, non-working hours don't typically align with other people's.
It's too easy to become complacent at home. Unlike traveling, when there was the constant pressure to fit as much in as possible before I moved on to the next destination, time now stretches off into the near future. I put things off until the indeterminate "later" and, predictably, they remain unfinished. I'm too Type A to be as purposefully idle as Kreider, but I think there's a lot to be said for making a conscious effort not to be busy.
My SF bucket list is only growing longer and it's time to start ticking things off.