2006.03.29 We're all CrazyBusy

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

When my daughter Rozee was a junior in high school, we put a lot of miles on the van looking for the perfect college. We did not go as far as Arcata, California, home of Humboldt State University, but that was Rozee’s number two choice. Had she not been accepted at Berea College, Humboldt is where she would have gone. Because I had been encouraged in high school to explore the entire United States in selecting a college, it seemed natural to me that my children would do the same.

Ben had no desire to go anywhere except Michigan State ever since he was little, but Rozee ended up six hours south, just off I-75. Whenever I lament that six-hour drive to Berea (five if you don’t stop at all) I think what our lives would be like if she had opted for Humboldt. We probably couldn’t have afforded to fly her home much and the road trip to Arcata would have been equally expensive and way more time consuming. I cringe to think how little we would have seen of her.

The week before last, I made the trek to Berea to bring Rozee back home for another in a series of never-ending dental appointments. As I traveled alone down I-75, listening to my “Latin Groove” CD, uninterrupted, with no sounds of impatience or disgust, it occurred to me that I was listening to my “Latin Groove” CD, uninterrupted, with no sounds of impatience or disgust.

Usually, when I travel with my children, any attempt to play “Mexico,” “World Lounge,” “Mozart,” and the like, meets with a chorus of loud complaint. My kids don’t cotton to my kind of music and they aren’t hesitant to express their displeasure with my eclectic selections. Sometimes I declare that everybody gets to choose whatever they want for half an hour each. Mostly, I just let them rule the roost.

I could lay down the law and say, “I’m the mom and I said so,” but usually one of them is driving and early in their driving careers, we established the “right to choose” rule in favor of the driver. He who drives, picks the music. Usually, “he” is “she” as in Rozee. Sometimes, that’s problematic. Living among southerners, she’s picked up a penchant for Country music. But her tastes are broad, and we can stand some diversity.

Other times, such as when we are listening to the radio coming home from Toledo, I insist on compromise: 93.5 FM for the oldies. There is only so much I can stand of the pop and hip hop of 92.5 before screaming in psychic pain. We can all appreciate the oldies—until the commercials come on and then even I can tolerate 92.5. 

On this solo trip to Berea, I had a surprise: the pleasure I took in Latin Groove was brief. It was over by the time I popped in Mexico. Now that I had control of the music, I missed my children, their latest mix of downloaded music, their scanty conversation, their increased poise and expertise in driving ability. How fleeting these moments, six hours—over in a flash. Eighteen years—zoom—it’s gone.

On the way home, (Rozee driving) I read her an excerpt in Real Simple magazine of Edward M. Hallowell’s new book “CrazyBusy.”

“Crazybusy,” I said. “I’ve used that phrase before.”

“Hmm, really just crazylazy,” I admitted.

“By whose standards?” Rozee asked.

“By most people’s standards,” I said.  “I just don’t get enough done.”

“Maybe your body isn’t meant to,” she offered.

“Crazybody,” I concluded, but I clung to her comment. My daughter doesn’t think I’m a lazy sot.

CrazyBusy. I looked it up on Amazon. “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD” is the complete title. The book asks a lot of questions: “Are you too busy? Are you always running behind? Is your calendar loaded with more than you can possibly accomplish? Is it driving you crazy? You’re not alone. CrazyBusy—the modern phenomenon of brain overload—is a national epidemic.” 

Publisher’s Weekly comments on it. “BlackBerries, cell phones, and e-mail 24/7. Longer work days, escalating demands, and higher expectations at home. It all adds up to a state of constant frenzy that is sapping us of creativity, humanity, mental well-being, and the ability to focus on what truly matters.”

It sounds like a book of stop-and-smell-the-roses advice, but it always bears repeating.

“...If we want to live life fully, we do best to slow down....a person must learn how to do what matters most first. Otherwise, you bulldoze over life’s best moments. You won’t notice the little charms that adorn each day, nor will you ever transform the mundane into the extraordinary.”

Hmm. Like, maybe on my next trip to Kentucky I should listen to Country the entire way?

  – March 29, 2006

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