I Am So Busy

I am so busy”  – – how often have you said it, or thought some variant of it this week?

A few days ago, I received a long quote by Wayne Muller, from a weekly mailing list (InnerNet Weekly). Mr. Muller talks about how whether it is the business world or the non-profit world, being busy has become a badge of pride. The following two paragraphs especially struck a chord:

“Despite their good hearts and equally good intentions, their work in the world rarely feels light, pleasant, or healing.  Instead, as it all piles endlessly upon itself, the whole experience of being alive begins to melt into one enormous obligation.  It becomes the standard greeting everywhere: I am so busy.

We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, our ability to withstand stress a mark of real character.  The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and we imagine, to others.  To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know that the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single, mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life. How have we allowed this to happen?  This was not our intention, this is not the world we dreamed when we were young and our whole life was full of possibility and promise.  How did we get so terribly lost in a world saturated with striving and grasping, yet somehow bereft of joy and delight.” –Wayne Muller, in Sabbath

A few months ago, I would have firmly fallen into the ‘I am too busy’ bucket. Not just stressed by the amount of work I was doing, but stressed by just thinking about what else needed to get done. Luckily certain decisions have dramatically changed the situation since then.

One of the astonishing things about the senior management at Aravind is the flexibility of their schedules. This is an organization that screens more than 2.5 million patients a year, trains Indian and foreign residents, does consultancy for more than 150 hospitals around the world. Yet, everyone goes home for lunch, everyday. Emails sent receive surprisingly prompt replies. If there is a wedding or funeral to go to, it isn’t the case that one family member is sent to represent the family – – everyone goes. This, in Madurai would mean: the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, the Administrator, the Head of Cataract and all the Specialty Clinics, the Director of Aurolab, the Director of LAICO, plus those that head housekeeping, publishing, etc.  Where have you seen either businesses or NGOs that keep functioning with their entire senior team often missing?

Visitors like Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, remember being astonished that Dr.V showed up at the airport to pick her up, driving his own car. I am constantly amazed at the generosity of time that we are accorded for book interviews. Interviews, which often get slotted for thirty minutes but run over for an hour or more. And there is always, complete attention that is given to our questions – – no checking of BlackBerrys (often no BlackBerrys!), and only the occasional phone call. Despite the meetings to attend, the operations and post-op rounds that need to be done, the students to be addressed, little pockets of time can and are found. And, along with the generosity, it is impressive, that in today’s world where one has to exchange at least five emails or smses before a common time-slot can be found, this flexibility has been built into the daily functioning of the organization.

And now that AuroFarm is flourishing, there are evening and weekend visits to enjoy the multi-acred greenery. Sometimes for a walk or sometimes for a swim, it is widely used by the paramedics, the management and their families. And what better place, than AuroFarm, to take a mindful breath, sit with a friend and watch the sun make its gentle way down the evening sky?

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One thought on “I Am So Busy

  1. Jyoti says:

    Dear Suchi,

    Getting to your blog is like watching a house plant grow and put out shoots. You look for growth everytime. This time I begin to wonder about Auro Farm, what it looks like, what it contains, I can see from the blog some of what it does to people.
    The other idea that strikes me with this blog is maybe as you move towards the conclusion of the present book on the Aravind Eye care system, you might want to think about doing a book on the making of this book! (I am serious. Just like the trailors of the making of a bollywood blockbuster.) This book seems to be a trailblazer. If so then it will require the kind of supporting book that I mention. Think about it. Thanks.

    Jyoti.

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