#Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Busy

Sometimes I think that the world has really gone completely crazy. The very items mankind has created for his improvement and benefit have become rods for our backs. When I started working in 1997, I didn’t have email or a cell phone. If someone wanted me for something, they had to call me on my landline. Work was printed out and reviewed by a senior and I made the corrections. When I left at the end of the day, that was that. I was unavailable until the following morning.

Now! Well, now it is entirely different. I have two cell phones and three email addresses. Everyone I know seems to expect me to be available to respond to emails and What’s App messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that includes, friends, family, work colleagues and clients. Weekends are no longer rest periods as it is an expectation that you check your email messages on a Saturday and Sunday and respond to anything that requires attention.

As for our poor children – where have their childhoods gone? Each and every school day they bring home a mountain of homework that has to be done. There are projects and speeches, sport and cultural activities. There is never any time for them to relax and be children. There entire day from 7.15am in the morning until they go to bed at night is accounted for.

Charli Mills, over at Carrot Ranch Literary Community, challenged us to write a piece of flash fiction, in exactly 99 words, that expressed our views on being busy. You can take part in this challenge here: https://carrotranch.com/2017/09/08/september-7-flash-fiction-challenge/?c=29264#comment-29264. This is my contribution:

Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy

In this modern world, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.

At work, deadlines, unexpected issues; needing time, needing urgent attention.

An endless cycle.

It sometimes seems relentless, a knot of anxiety in my stomach, as I work through the list of tasks, carefully and exactingly, there is no room for error.

In my dual purpose life, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.

At home, husband and children, all needing help, needing time, needing advice.

An endless cycle.

I feel like a monster, driving them on, helping them meet the demands of their high-speed, high-tech lives.


This same thought inspired the following poem:

A balanced life

In my modern, affluent life;

I am a hamster in a ball;

Frantically running on and on;

Until I collapse and fall.


Work and colleagues relentless;

Hours, twenty four – days, seven;

An endless production line;

Very few’s idea of Heavenh.


The better your quality of work;

The more you manage to produce;

The more others pile on you;

The system open to abuse.


After a long day in the office;

Harried and stressed to the hilt;

I rush home to my children;

My heart heavy with maternal guilt.


In this high tech, modern world;

There is no balance to be found;

Over population and high expectations;

Stealthily destroying without sound.


Where and when will it all end?

How do I escape this endless treadmill?

Without seeming to fail my children;

Which would be a very bitter pill.

by Robbie Cheadle

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town



49 thoughts on “#Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Busy

  1. These are some wonderful thoughts Robbie. We need to be reminded that there are more important things than the electronics that dominate our lives. I have to make myself turn my phone completely off sometimes, just so I can decompress. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is spot on and beautiful. I often write about and research the socioeconomic spectrum and notice at both extremes we’re trapped in one hamster ball or another. To say one is privileged might require all new definitions. As one comment or says living without all the bells and whistles is much more peaceful. So many changes I’d love for us all to enjoy; except indoor plumbing. I really love that 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, it is true. There’s little privacy anymore and as a culture, we seem to be OK with that. Especially the kids who grow up in it. I have a gorgeous view out of my home office window–trees, sky, clouds, blackbirds. This reminds me what life could be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I agree, Robbie. There doesn’t seem to be a minute’s peace sometimes! It us a double-edged sword though as my internet went down over the weekend and I could hardly access anything, I thought I was going to go mad! We need to get some sort of sensible balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every single word from the intro to the short prose piece to the poem was brilliant, they worked beautifully together: a thematic tsunami: a triptych of genius… You are so talented!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel your pain. This is our life now. I didn’t grow up this way but my children will. I try to minimize their activities but there is so much technology and, as you said, we’re basically on call 24/7. It’s horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes it is a different world now and our children are growing up with this as normal. My nephews feel sorrow for me that we didn’t have computers and mobile phones and oodles of other things when we were kids. They pity us and we pity them. We know what life was like and like you I mourn its passing. Loved your poem.


    1. Thank you, Irene. I think it is the relentlessness of this digital age that I find very draining. People seem to have far more mental health problems in our modern world due to stress and pressure. Our poor children think this is normal and I wonder what it will lead to in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Robbie, I can relate to all the issues you wrote about in this post. My sister just retired from her government job in Hong Kong. When she and I were working. She was the one who said to me that we didn’t get paid by hours, we got paid for our responsibilities. It was well illustrated when my clerk went home left some time sensitive worked undone, I stayed late to get it done! Yes, the phones… we now don’t have a land line! Very nice post, Robbie!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You’ve caught the conundrum so well in both flash and poem — not only is it about our own busyness, but that of our children, too. I remember thinking it was all giving my children “better opportunities.” Yes, it did, and it does. But I also took my kids outside, where I found my own balance. I see you taking your kids to those things that balance you, too like writing, music, baking and rock collecting. If it’s any consolation, my children are 26, 27, 28 (did I just say that out loud? oh how fast they grow up!) and they continue to look for that balance in their own busy lives. They amaze me at how and where they find it, but they do! I feel for you, though with your job. I couldn’t take it any more, and found my own path. I get frustrated with clients for whom I write or market for, but I also remember that I don’t go to their place of business every day, and I have my joy of literary art. These are not easy times. I’m glad you wrote about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Charli. We live such an expensive life now, partly because we want the best for our children and partly because that is the way the world has gone. It is hard to find down time but we have to do our best to find a balance and love our children

      Liked by 1 person

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