The Gift of Time

Dear readers, it has been a tough week.  Over the last few years I have been carefully planning in preparation for my eventual retirement.  I like to know what is ahead, and I’m not terribly good with unexpected change.

This last week I received a phone call that could alter my future plans in a significant way. To say that I was stressed and upset would be an understatement. The night after I got the phone call I slept less than 4 hours, and that was interrupted sleep.

As an introvert I am comfortable being alone in my head, but I also need a few people in my life.  I reached out to friends and family and received statements of support and encouragement.  It felt good. My friend Tom was apprised of my tale of woe when I met him at the gym on Friday. He also offered me encouragement and statements of support.

Most early Saturday mornings are spent with Tom.  We usual do some business type work, and sometimes a bit of personal growth stuff.  However, we also have a lot of unstructured time.  I call this our, “solving the problems of the world time.”  During this time we may price out the cost of running a taco truck business, design a house, or talk about the best type of exterior house siding (James Hardie siding). We do these things for the fun of doing them.  I believe Tom’s wife refers to this activity as “Two boys playing together in a sandbox.”

And so it was 4:50 AM and Tom’s car quietly pulled up in front of my house.  I know his patterns well enough that a text message from him was unnecessary.  Within two minutes shoes and coat were on, and I was out the door.

At 4:50 AM there are not a lot of coffee options, Tom’s car seemed to automatically drive to the Dunkin Donuts.  We pulled out of the drive-thru and went in a direction opposite from Tom’s office.  “Do you think we can do our work in the car today?”  Tom asked.  I was a bit puzzled, but I said, “Sure.”  “I thought that we would go out to breakfast,”  Tom said.  This was not that unusual, and I said, “OK.”

Dear readers, I love breakfast anywhere, but my absolute favorite place for omelets is a little diner/cafe in Monroe, Wisconsin.  Tom said, “What would you think about driving to Monroe?”  We live in the suburbs of Chicago, Monroe is 130 miles, or two and a half hours away!

In an effort to make me feel better he was willing to drive the 5 hours round trip for an omelet.  Of course, what he was really giving me was the gift of time.  A gift that said that I was important enough for someone to take an entire morning just to make me feel better.  A priceless gift.  A gift that made me think.

How often do we deny ourselves the gift of connecting with others?  How often do we deny our connections the feelings of worth and importance by not even giving them 5 minutes of our full attention?  How often do we half listen to the important people in our lives because we are distracted by reading, watching TV, or playing with our smartphones?  It is a terrible feeling to be less important than a TV rerun.

When you give your time to someone you get to know them on an entirely different level.  You move past the headlines of their lives, and into their footnotes.  You know what they ate for dinner, how their back is feeling, what challenges they faced the day before.  You get to know the real person, and they get to know you.  It is an amazing gift that so many people throw away for insignificant time wasters.

Dear readers, pay attention and listen to your friends.  Allow your friends to listen to you. Give them the gift of your time.  A TV show, or even a best-selling novel, will have zero importance in the overall fabric of your life. A real connection with another person will.

Today my goal is to ponder the above.

… and yes, the omelet was delicious.