The American philosopher/writer/publisher Elbert Hubbard wrote:
“If you want something done, ask a busy person, for the other kind has no time.”
After our youngest went off to college I took a hiatus from big-time volunteering, which I had done for decades. At first it felt nice; I caught up on lunches with friends, did some redecorating, wrote some funny stuff, read some books, hung out with my cats, whatever. But as the days slipped into weeks and the weeks into months I found myself accomplishing less and less in a day, even though I had plenty of “free time.”
After spending way too much time (!) thinking about it, I concluded that if people aren’t busy enough we get lazy … and fritter hours and days away doing not much of anything. That’s right, my friends, more (leisure time) can lead to less (engagement in life).
If we watch a fistful of TV shows like a religion, play video games until our fingers lock up, shop ’til we drop, or read until our retinas feel like toast, we have time to volunteer, to help someone or something outside of our tight family circle. If we say we are “too busy” or “too tired” to volunteer, perhaps what we really mean is that we are not motivated or that we are depressed. I hate to think that we’re just plain lazy!
A good friend, who urged me to get involved in volunteering my time and talents again, told me that many non-profits are struggling to stay afloat because people are too busy or too tired to help. Imagine that! She went on to say that many worthy non-profits need active volunteers, not just people who join so they can write the name of the organization on their resume. Then she rattled off the names of a number of worthy organizations in our town that needed active volunteers. Moved by what she said, I picked an organization near and dear to her heart and I stepped up. I showed up for planning meetings, I contributed to the whole. I helped lead a fundraising effort. It felt good. My brain was all sparky and bright. And I got more done at home because I was “busy” and had to prioritize/schedule to accomplished what I needed to get done. And even better? I felt better about myself because I was helping someone other than myself.
Do you think that volunteering is an important component of a well-rounded life? Why?