I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said if you want something done, ask a busy person. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, we know it’s true. Busy people typically make getting things done a way of life. King Solomon learned the opposite of this truth the hard way and shares what it’s like, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him” (Proverbs 10:26). If you are busy, you are better off doing it yourself.
On January 29, 1955, C. S. Lewis opens a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne with something of an apology; or better, an explanation. His correspondence had dropped off significantly and he wanted to explain the reasons. He begins,
“Yes, I’ve been treating you (and others) badly of late, but, I think, with some excuse. First there were visitors; then the preparation for the move; than the move itself (at which moment my brother got ill so that I had all the correspondence to tackle single-handed); then the settling in at Cambridge plus various delights like burst water-pipes; repeated journeys to and fro — in fact a period during which life seem to consist entirely of journeys and letter writing — the pen has become to me what the oar is to a galley slave: then (God be praised) influenza and long half-comatose days in bed.
“Yesterday was my first day out. I hope to go back to work and Cambridge on Thursday next. I was about as likely to ride in a steeplechase as to write a poem! But you have never been absent from my prayers. So try not to be hurt by my silence.”1
As one reads this list of disasters, it’s easy to miss the obvious. Lewis prays for Ms. Shelburne and he did write a letter! If you want something done, ask a busy person.
“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.’” – Mark 6:31.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 557. Italics in original.