COLM O'REGAN: Are you busy? We all ask one another all the time - and we all are

Well that’s good news. Maybe I can relax a little. You see they reckon slacking can be evolutionarily advantageous.

‘They’ being scientists of course, from the university of Kansas. They reckon this because they studied 300 breeds of mollusc that lived and died in the Atlantic over the last five million years.

(The molluscs lived and died over the last five million years. The researchers weren’t studying them for that length of time.)

It’s heart-warming that the molluscs have not been forgotten. That their lives have some meaning.

The meaning is that the slower moving sea snails, sea slugs, mussels and scallops, the ones that didn’t push themselves too much hard, may have had a better chance at surviving extinction.

These are the molluscs that we should all aspire to. The ones that told faster-moving molluscs to slow down you’re only making work for yourself and you won’t get the thanks for it because it’s all pull around here (pulling a mussel I presume).

These were the molluscs that always had time for a chat. The ones that drove the forklift out to the furthest part of the site to hide around half past four in the afternoon in case they’d be caught for a new job.

The researchers think that these mollusics had a slower metabolism – which is a curse for drink driving - but a blessing for evolution.

They needed less food and so were better able to deal with it when times were hard. Whereas the go-ahead molluscs, the ones who were at the pin of their collar at the moment, to be honest, and up the walls but sure this is it hah?

No rest for the wicked needed more energy to keep all the balls in the air, keep everyone happy and still try and get out and go for a run as well, just to clear the head.

Scientist think that, even though this a study of molluscs on the floor of an ocean, the good news for humanity and people with space to fill in newspapers is that it could also apply to vertebrates who live on land and eat toasted sandwiches and hit their head off the open door of the food press over the sink.

This is big. It might be a blow struck against the tyranny of busy.

Are you busy? We all ask one another all the time. And we all are. We have to be. It helps the small talk proceed to the next stage.

Are you busy? Ah can’t complain/Up the walls/Shur you know yourself/ Pullin the divil by the tail etc establishes a bond.

I’m actually not busy at the moment after finishing a thing and waiting for another thing. I have work but it’s only enough to keep me going like. This amount of work is lower than the minimum amount to keep you tipping away. At least it’s a good bit more than scratching myself.

The problem is that my whole small talk strategy is based on being up the walls. People assume I’m busy because I’ve been telling them that for the last 18 years.

When I had a job it was so that word wouldn’t get back that I wasn’t being worked hard enough. (I was.) Now that I’m outonmeown it’s to reassure people that things are fine.

But just at the moment, about 10% under the tipping away threshold, there’s a certain awkwardness between us.

I can’t say things are quiet because it looks like I’m the owner of a shop who’s didn’t bother ordering a single barbecue this summer but has had the hot water bottles in since July.

If I’m waiting for some things to start I might as well be Jack Lemmon from Glengarry Glen Ross with everyone looking at my desperate optimism with pity-loathing.

But now, thanks to the researchers under the sea, I have a new, successful role model.

How are things? Are you busy? With pride, I can say, just like a mollusc: I’m sluggish.


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