This nation has a big problem. I call it The Big
No, not obesity. Overscheduling.
Simon and Garfunkel diagnosed this ailment years
ago with their Feeling Groovy song.
Slow down, you move too fast. Youíve got to make
the morning last. Just kicking down the cobble
stones, lookiní for fun and feeliní groovy.
The problem was clearly evident 40 years ago when
that song was popular. Itís much worse now. We try
to do too much in not enough time. To get more
done we even cut back on sleep. I read that 100
years ago Americans averaged 9.5 hours of sleep a
night. Today, we average 7 hours and many ďget byĒ
on much less than that.
Why do we do this to ourselves? We do it,
psychologists tell us, because it makes us feel
important. We are sending a message to others.
"Iím 24/7, man. Notice how busy I am? I am really
Now we donít even do just one thing at a time. We
multi-task. We carry on a phone conversation while
typing an email message and also keeping an ear
cocked for breaking news on the cable channel.
Even the TV channel is multi-tasking. Thereís a
split screen showing two things going on at once,
plus an audio track, plus text of news bits
crawling across the bottom of the screen.
But it gets worse. Some too-busy people
overschedule their vacations, too. As the chief
cook and concierge at a certain yacht chartering
firm, I have seen The Big O disease reach
problematical proportions. Power cruisers are the
worst. They are more point A to point B types.
Crank up the RPMs, get me to the marina on time,
and all that. Sailors are much more patient. They
know you canít depend on the wind and while they
donít mind starting the auxiliary from time to
time, theyíd really rather be sailing with no
particular place to go. Thanks Chuck Berry
I wonít name names but we had a customer, an
accomplished boater, who was qualified to skipper
one of our trawlers without a captain. Heís a
fast-charging, get Ďer done, check-it-off kind of
guy. He arrived four hours late and missed his
appointment to get checked out on the boat and was
miffed nobody would stay late to do it. After his
check out the next morning, anxious to get back on
his self-imposed schedule, he pulled the vessel
out of the slip and navigated right into the teeth
of a heavy rain storm.
The best prescription I know for The Big O is
cruising. Your hometown paper is not delivered to
the aft deck. Cell phones donít always get a
signal. The TV screen is small; reception is poor.
If you don't get the message, you're listening too
hard. Tap, tap, Mr. and Mrs. Chronic Busy. You.
Turn off the phone and the TV. Pick up a novel
instead of a newspaper. Close your eyelids and
drift into a delicious nap. Get that groovy
feeling again. Just last week a charter client
asked if they could take the TV off the boat for
their cruise. Thatís the idea.
There is another way out, not so groovy, not so
inviting. Itís called The Big Sleep. Itís very
popular among The Big O set and if you are one of
those overscheduled types you are most welcome to
engrave one of these sayings on your tombstone for
use at the appointed time, fast approaching.
Notice how important I am.
I've got so much to do.
Or (with apologies to Emily Dickinson) this
paraphrase of one of her famous poems:
Because I would not stop for Life-- He kindly
stopped for me--