I’m co-chair of the Independence Day Parade for the area in which I live. The parade, which is held on the 4th of July every year, is slowly dying out as fewer and fewer local businesses and organizations sign up to be in the parade and thus fewer parade watchers come out to see it. The parade, which used to attract up to 100 entries every year is down to less than half of that number and continuing to shrink.
There are many contributing factors to the loss of interest in the 4th of July parade, not the least of which is the fact that it occurs during the height of the summer vacation season. In our area, we have a really big and wonderful Memorial Day parade to honor veterans and those serving now, which siphons off some of the potential participants for the Independence Day parade. We used to get 5-10 scout troops – Cub Scouts and Brownies in particular – in the parade and now none show up. I’m sure economics play some role, too. This year many local cities and townships canceled their 4th of July fireworks because of budget issues. Having said all of that, I think another big reason is that many think they are too busy to take the time to march in or go see a parade.
That thought brought to mind this quote by Socrates – “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” I think Socrates was trying to warn us about becoming too busy to appreciate and savor life. I’ve posted here before about the dangers of becoming so focused upon success in a career that one loses sight of why they are working in the first place – they lose touch with the family that they point to as the reason for their hard work They become so busy that their life and that of those they love becomes barren.
Next week we have the one opportunity that we get a year to stop our busy-work and take a moment to contemplate the birth of the greatest nation on earth, yet most are too busy to get into the parade that celebrates that event or to come watch it. Maybe it’s time to stop for a moment and consider what you are doing with the prime of the only life that you get. Are you too busy for family and friend? Are you constantly working and not taking any time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor? Are you perhaps confusing being busy with being productive or even with being happy? Is your busy life really fulfilling or has being busy all the time left it barren?
It is ironic somehow that the only two times in our lives that we seem to take the time to enjoy it are at the two ends of it. When we are children we are blissfully ignorant of the need to be busy all the time, although we seem to be most of the time. When we are elderly, we may finally get the time to slow down and enjoy life without the need to be busy. But, oh boy; in between those two ages, we seem to be heads down busy all the time. I’ve already posted here about the opportunity to take time for God at church having been preempted by sports – see What happened to Sundays? We’ve become a society that is too busy to stop and devote a couple of hours to church, when there are ball games and soccer matches and hockey games to be played.
There is only one solution to this problem and that is to just say no to the next busy thing that is demanding your time and instead take the time to go to church or to march in or watch the parade or to do the other things that aren’t on a To-Do list. Slow down, catch your breath, take time to think about and appreciate the things and people that are around you. You need not be busy 24/7. Life is not about being busy all the time. While most of you may not even know who he was, this quote by Eddie Cantor seems an appropriate way to end this post – “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
Come out and see our parade on the 4th of July; or, even better, be in it.