March 15


Today's Quotation:

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Robert Frost

Today's Meditation:

This has always been one of my favorite poems from Robert Frost, for it shows in a very simple way the power of prioritizing.  We see a man who knows the importance of visiting with a friend and strengthening a friendship.  The hoeing can wait another half hour or so--the ground will be waiting patiently for him to get back--but his friend will soon be passing and this opportunity to strengthen their ties of friendship will be gone if he doesn't take advantage of it.

I know from experience the difficulty of being the kind of person who will always make time for friends in a world of people who put more importance on work and tasks than they do on "meaningless" meetings with friends.  As we run from this task to that one, as we focus on work and sports and entertainment instead of fellow human beings, we become more fragmented, as a culture and as individuals.  They have no time to talk, no time to connect, no time to relax and enjoy another person's company, and to make the other person richer by sharing something of themselves.

I have to say that I found that people in other cultures still are willing to take this time--sometimes to extremes--and in those cultures it's easier to feel a sense of community, and there tends to be much less isolation and loneliness.  But no cultures are perfect, of course, and no matter where we live, the most important thing that we can do is make the decision for ourselves--do I continue hoeing because I've decided this task is the most important thing right now, or do I go and spend some time with a fellow human being?

Questions to ponder:

1.  Why do so many people value tasks over personal connection?

2.  What kinds of situations might make you decide not to talk to a person with whom you have the chance to talk?

3.  What goes into your decision-making process when you have to decide whether to work or to talk?  Is it possible that we place too much importance on getting things done in a certain amount of time?  How many truly awful effects of not doing so have you seen?

For further thought:

Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendships and intimacies. . . and yet they leave their friendships and intimacies with no cultivation, to grow as they will by the roadside, expecting them to "keep" by force of mere inertia.

William James

more thoughts and ideas on friendship



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