Loretta LaRoche: Get busy forgetting how busy you are

Loretta LaRoche

I have a dear friend whom I’ve known for years. We now live several hundred miles apart and don’t see each other often, but we talk on the phone regularly.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that we hadn’t spoken in quite some time, so I called her at home and got her voice mail.

Her message: “Hello, please leave me your name and number and the reason for your call and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

Two days later, she called me from her car phone.

“Hi, it’s me. I’m so sorry I haven’t called in such a long time. Things here have been just insane! I’ve been working so hard it’s unbelievable. I had to work on a project all weekend, and when I wasn’t working, I had to take the kids to a birthday party and two play dates. I haven’t had a minute to call. I’m so overwhelmed. I just don’t know what to do.”

I didn’t know what to say to her. How absurd! We haven’t spoken for a month, and she takes the first 10 minutes of our conversation to tell me that she’s too busy to talk to me.

Divulging every tiny detail of our daily doings has become a fact of life. I don’t know when it started, but I cannot recall my grandmother or mother having a need to report how busy they were to everyone who came across their path. Perhaps we’re hoping that someone will come to our rescue if we appear as if we’re going to have a nervous breakdown.

I have to realize that the only thing that will rescue me is me! Unfortunately, we are also in an era when real listening has been replaced by practicing what you’re going to say while the other person is talking. Whomever you’re telling how busy you are is champing at the bit to explain how she is even more fatigued and overwhelmed.

I am beginning to wonder if we really want relief; or has the mind-set of a never-ending list of tasks become the new model of self-worth? If so, we are totally missing the point about what it means to live a fulfilling life. I doubt that at the end of our days people will be talking about how busy we were.

I would hope that we will be remembered for the joy, laughter, compassion and understanding we brought to our friends, co-workers and family. Now that’s a busy life that’s worth it.

Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send e-mail to, visit the Web site at, or call toll-free 800-99-TADAH (82324).