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Too Busy to Be Bored

Published: May 15, 2020


I read a comment in the New York Times recently that suggested an increase in a person’s income is a proof of their success. This reminded me of the blind assumption that supply-side capitalism is good. I wonder what would happen if we measured success in happiness or resilience in crisis or sense of humor that enlightens, not denigrates?

I'm 91 and am strictly self-isolating in HUD senior housing. I take no personal credit for being too busy to be bored! I write several poems a week and have scraps of notes waiting to be developed. I make SoulCollage(R) cards, spending hours cutting just that part of the right image to say what I mean in visual form, so that when I get – heaven forbid! – a bit bored, I am reminded yet again how rich I am.

I have bookcases full of books, thus the joy of rediscovering authors, including myself. My 1977 PhD thesis is darn good, but how much better it might have been if I'd written is last year! Obscure writers like Jung and James Hillman are quite clear now! Fine novels like Robertson Davies are still fine. Dick Francis is still engaging, very clever, never crude.

The capacity to just sit and think has been encouraged by 40 years of being a non-theist Quaker. That ability grows as my guilt at not DOING something lessens.

I am grateful every day that I worked hard to get the postdoctoral Masters in Art Therapy at age 66. I rarely wish I had more money and then, only because I'd like to give it to someone who badly needs it because the whole system was skewed against them.

I think my level of happiness is in spite of capitalism. My genes for resilience and curiosity and delight are worth far more than money. My education is priceless in that it repays me every hour of every day in focus, challenge, meaning-making. Never before the pandemic have I been so aware of these priorities that chance handed me, and that now stand up well to solitary confinement.

All best wishes to a future based on values, not money.

from Marybeth Webster, South Mountain Friends Meeting (5/14/2020)