I realised the other day I had been misrepresenting myself.
When you move somewhere new, or start a new job, join a new club, meet a new social circle, or in the case of me do all of the above at once to a degree your slate is wiped clean.
No one here really had much prior knowledge of me and so their idea of who I am is largely based on what I have told them and what I have done. Which is of course a fair measure of who someone is in many ways.
Just as many of us go through different life phases and while the essence of who we are deep inside remains the same we wear different coats, carry different external identities or play out different roles the person I am presenting here just now is rather different to anyone I have been before.
In many ways this is an accurate portrayal of me – I’m no longer a scruffy student, a stroppy teen, an ambitious young career chaser. I’m no longer a Home Educator mother of two small people (although I’ll never feel I’ve lost my Home Educator status, no matter how big those people grow…), I’m no longer an off gridder, an island-dweller (well I am, but the island is rather bigger), not a pig / sheep / duck-keeper.
Instead the two things that I am most regularly greeted with when I meet people just now are talk of swimming and talk of busyness. I seem to have become the local crazy in-the-water-most-days wild swimmer. I’m known for it. I also have the reputation of being ‘everywhere’, ‘always busy’ and ‘never at home’.
I’m more than happy with the swimming tag. I am indeed in most days and while I still wouldn’t class myself as much of an actual swimmer, more a ‘messer-about-in-the-water’ if you’re going to do something most days then it’s fair to get tagged with it. And I’ve never much minded a crazy tag (with no offence at all meant to anyone who is triggered by that term).
I am less comfortable with the ‘busy’ label.
I looked it up in the dictionary – busy is defined as ‘working hard’, ‘having a great deal to do’ and ‘overloaded, swamped’. It can also be taken to mean ‘overly decorated or ornate’. The opposite of busy is idle, leisurely or indeed free.
And right there I realise what I’m kicking against with the term busy. Because I am not particularly working because I try not to consider anything I do as work, just as what I’m choosing to spend my time doing. Various of the things I choose to do mean I earn money but in the main I actively enjoy doing all of them. There are elements of each task that can be mundane or not entirely joyous but sufficient highlights in every one to make the overall endeavour a pleasure. Whether it is finding the fun, humour or photo opportunity in a holiday cottage cleaning morning or some banter with the young people at school breaking up a shift at the community centre.
I cannot possibly be busy when I can choose to take an hour out of my day, pretty much every day, pretty much at a time of my choosing to go and swim in the loch. I cannot be busy when every day I have time to pause, look out of the window or stand and stare at the sky, the clouds, marvel at the light, spot raindrops on cobwebs and buzzards in trees.
I cannot be busy when I find time every day to do so many things which I earn nothing for but which bring me such joy, a strum of my ukulele, a curled up cuddle with a teen while watching something on TV, a half an hour snatched in bed in the morning to finish a chapter of a book rather than get up just yet, a spinning of fleece, a crocheting something on a whim because I felt like it, a baking a cake ‘just because’.
I cannot be busy when I sit here, on a Tuesday morning typing this and pondering my third cup of tea of the day.
Busy feels negative, it feels something to be bound by, as though it should almost always come with the word ‘too’ in front of it to be used as an excuse, an apology, a regret.
I won’t call myself busy any more. And when next someone asks after my swimming and then comments on my busyness I shall correct them. I’m still pondering on quite what I am instead…. fulfilled? Lucky? Fortunate? Maybe I’m just doing exactly what I want to be doing….