From triple helix - winter 1998 - The Addiction of a Busy Life (Book Review) [pp22-23]
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I was initially asked to write this review for the Autumn 1998 edition of Triple Helix just as we were leaving for our family holiday. I said 'no'!
A devastating heart attack is the megaphone God uses to wrest publisher Edward England from his addictive busy-ness. This book is an extraordinarily honest account of four years in the life of this successful man. We feel his physical, mental and emotional anguish as he struggles with the lessons God has for him during a period of enforced inactivity. He fights with denial, pride, embarrassment and fear of losing honour and reputation and is brought painfully to the realisation that he is not indispensable. From here he finds the freedom of living with God's limits, appreciating the joy of each day's blessings.
Though a personal journey (at times with too much detail for me), the lessons Edward England learnt through great trauma have much relevance to busy health professionals. It is easy to rationalise our frenetic lifestyles as commitment rather than addiction. I found myself nodding in agreement at times. Non-stop activity always has consequences. For ourselves it brings restlessness and satisfaction only in doing more, it squeezes out intimacy with God and others, and ultimately brings burnout or premature illness.
While 'we may be foolish enough to think we do not need to change the pace for ourselves . . non-stop activity places an intolerable burden upon those we love'. Diary entries from Edward's wife Ann (a doctor) poignantly illustrate this. Unfortunately this addiction is so wide-spread that there is often little point in asking colleagues or friends for help.
The last brief chapter, 'A Final Word', is an excellent distillation of the book's message and ends with a prayer asking God to be our pacemaker - words all busy people should make their own.
(Community Paediatrician, St Albans)