Hectic life can have bitter consequences

Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers Columnist

I saw a scary commercial on TV the other day, a Wal-Mart spot showing a woman with a hectic lifestyle who looks into the camera and says: “I like being busy all the time.”

Don’t we all? We just love driving around like maniacs, our cell phones glued to our ears, going nonstop from sunup to sundown, and when we finally lay our tired bodies down to sleep with a big “to-do” list still unfinished, our children stressed out, we can tell ourselves, “This is the life!”

Being big on conspiracy theories, I find this as one more example of the “Powers That Be” being perfectly happy with us Americans blindly accepting the ideology that we must be constantly doing something, particularly in the name of earning another buck, so we can buy more of their stuff.

I’m sure government finds our hectic lifestyles convenient, too. That leaves us with less time to question what they’re doing. Gone are the days, for the most part, when people took to the streets to support causes and force change. And when they do, they’re ignored by politicians who now handpick their audiences.

At a recent Graduate Student Association meeting at Eastern New Mexico University, one student found it almost unforgivable that many graduate students aren’t involved. Of course, we’re all busy, but, as this student pointed out, “What happened to the days when people were willing to give up a little of their time to help make a difference?”

I’m guilty of overextending myself this semester. Like so many others, I did it for financial reasons, trying to squeeze in all of my classwork this term for my master of arts degree so that all I have left in the fall is my thesis work. I overcommitted last semester too. Fortunately, I was able to get myself out, although I did feel bad resigning from the committee at my daughter’s school and resigning as president of the Spanish Club at ENMU, two things I had wanted to do.

I wasn’t able to get out this semester, though. I’ve had to manage with my chin just above water, promising not to do this to myself and my daughter again for a long time: Taking three graduate level classes, teaching two newswriting classes, writing the first part of my thesis, writing this column and trying to help my daughter with her schoolwork and extracurricular activities. My consolation is that in about three weeks, this semester from hell will be over.

I plan to take it easy this summer, just taking classes I want to take — swimming, creative poetry writing and maybe Native American literature.

When I think of how busy we’ve become, I think of the sad state of our postmodern world, a world in which many of our towns are comprised largely of shopping malls and hardly any community centers. This is a world in which our news and entertainment systems as well as scientific research is contingent upon paid sponsors who influence content and outcome. It’s a world in which our intelligence is being downgraded.

Instead of dealing with real intellectual issues of reasoning, we’re OK with satisfying our senses and we accept stories about pregnant pop stars as the news of the day.

We should get unbusy and focus on things that really matter.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com