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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 2, 2010

Busy backsoons realize the error of their ways


By Michael C. DeMattos

Benjamin Hoff wrote in "The Tao of Pooh," years ago, that most human beings had somehow evolved into human doers.

On the surface this seems like a good thing, that we humans are committed to improvement personally, professionally, spiritually and that we are willing to put in the needed work to develop and grow.

For Hoff, however, this was a problem. His point was the opposite, that our drive to improve was driving us crazy and ultimately making us sick. Somewhere along the line we forgot how to be still. He named these human doers busy backsoons, as in "I am busy, will be back soon."

I remember reading "The Tao of Pooh" and making a silent promise to myself never to become a busy backsoon. Sadly, I have failed. Take this past weekend for instance. Our daughter had a birthday party to attend that would last from noon until 4:30 p.m. I immediately began planning my afternoon. So did my wife. She was thinking about a run to the beach, while I contemplated some time at the driving range. She wanted sun; I needed practice.

The sad thing is that we were both so busy, neither of us made time to discuss our wants and desires with the other. We were too busy to talk! When the time came and we dropped off our daughter, we were left sitting in the car wondering what to do next. As Garth Brooks says, thank God for unanswered prayers.

It turns out our little communication breakdown was just what the doctor ordered. After sitting and staring at each other for about 10 minutes we decided to do a little shopping ... at Costco ... for work.

Pathetic I know, busy backsoons for sure; but it is what came after the Costco run that was the real miracle. Not knowing what to do next, we packed the groceries in the car and made our way to the nearest restaurant. We had some lunch and did nothing but talk for 2 1/4 hours. No phone calls (except a text from our daughter telling us what a great time she was having), no computer screens, no one else, but us.

So what did I learn from this 4 1/4 hour non-adventure? That Hoff was right, we human beings have somehow lost track and become human doers. Sometimes this is good, but often it is bad. Bad for relationships, bad for the ticker and bad for the soul.

I also learned that the way out is the way in. Our communication failure became our salvation. Had we discussed the matter ahead of time, we would have never enjoyed our quality time together. Yes, I may be a busy backsoon, but this was the one time when failing was a real gift the kind you don't find at birthday parties.