“I’m too busy”

I started reading a modern translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, titled The Emperor’s Handbook. It consists of twelve books (or chapters), and the first book was solely dedicated to thanksgiving and gratitude. He wrote about the people he was grateful for and how each one impacted him through the way they lived their lives or the words of wisdom they provided.

Alexander the Platonist cautioned me against saying or writing in a letter, either too often or without absolutely needing to, “I’m too busy,” as well as against using the demands of work as a constant excuse for ducking my social obligations and familial duties.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Within its many pages of wisdom, this one line stood out to me in particular. Because it is indeed something I have too often been guilty of. As we grow older and take on more responsibilities, it becomes easier and easier to play the “I’m too busy” card. Because there’s always some truth to it. We think “It’s not a lie, it’s not an excuse, I actually am really busy.” And best of all, no one can fault you for it either.

It’s powerful, but therein lies the danger of an excuse this convenient. Left unchecked, it becomes easy to put off even the important things. It leads down a path of self-centredness and procrastination. So, note to self, as Alexander the Platonist cautions, as difficult as it might be, do not use it unless absolutely needed.