Busy lives: Always catching up

It had been a long time.

Many, many months since I’d seen her.

A deep friendship forged years ago.

Yet lately, grown distant.

Extended absences will do that.

Not enough face time will do that.

Busy lives will do that.

Where does the time go?

It didn’t take long for us to move back into an old rhythm, though. Because we’d performed this drama before.

It’s an old and familiar classic. It’s called: Busy Lives – Always Catching Up.

So we were prepared for our moments in the spotlight.

Enter stage right. First my monologue. Then her monologue.

The words came quickly because we know this story. We know these characters. We’ve learned our parts well.

Where does the time go?

In the dark, noisy restaurant, bit players clinked silverware and perhaps murmured their own monologues. The perfect accompaniment for our unfolding scene.

Where does the time go?

At one point, I veered from the script and began to improvise.

Is this what friendship has become in the 21st century, I asked. Always catching up. Trying to cram the recitation of our days and nights and weeks and months into the spaces between bites of salad and sips of wine.

Always catching up. Rarely with a chance to just be. Together.

Where does the time go?

No, we both agreed. Friendship is more than that. And friendship needs time for simply enjoying one another.

Time for speaking from the heart.

Time for slowing down and really seeing the person across the table.

Time for melting into the moment, without having to figure anything out.

Time for saying, “Hello, Friend.”

Where does the time go?

* * *

I wrote this during Winter 2011, but didn’t expect to post it here. Then a couple of weeks ago I read this: The Busy Trap. It’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it. In the past year I learned something else, too: almost half of the brain’s cerebral cortex is devoted to visual input. That’s the part of the brain where social cues are processed. So basically that means if we’re not purposefully working on connecting in real space and time, our brains are probably starving for face time.

10 thoughts on “Busy lives: Always catching up

  1. Patty,

    that’s interesting about the need for face time. I have a friendship with someone I’ve known since high school. Unfortunately, we meet twice a year. One time for her birthday and one time for mine. It’s makes me sad and I used to try to get together more often, but without success. We seldom really “speak from our hearts” anymore. It’s more “catching up.” Then again, we live very different lives now. I suppose that’s something that happens with friends from an early period of your life. Still, she has a lot of meaning to me and even if we do meet infrequently, I look forward to seeing her. Both of us hold a lot of shared memories dear to our hearts.

    I hope your week is going well:~)

  2. Hi Patty,

    I spend as much time as possible with the people who give my life meaning. I take the time. I feel human because of this. We choose to spend our lives away from folks who nurture us. We choose to fill our days with wall to wall non-meaning.

    My husband and I walk together several nights a week. We’ve got all these shooters because those kids don’t feel human and they don’t see others a human. They feel the numbness that comes from being detached from others. Sometimes, I think it’s a cry for attention. Please look at me I matter. Why didn’t you see me?

    Moreover, we do not ask ourselves what we value in life. Children are not asked what they value. They are just shown the way to the treadmill and trained not to look down. For if you look down, you will see your legs pounded a consumer conveyor belt going nowhere.

    Most of the “you must do this way” doesn’t matter. It’s just a way to keep folks so pre-occupied that they cannot take back their power and direction of their own lives.

    We raise people to be mindless consumers. This isolates folks from other folks so they can’t see what’s happening to everyone. Spending your free time walking up and down a windowless mall carting bags filled with emotional weights doesn’t do much for the human psyche.

    We put children in standardized testing bubbles all day and call it learning because the true meaning of learning has been bastardized. In my mind, real learning means freeing yourself to share your gift to the world. It’s about liberation. Instead we incarcerate children until they are 18. Then incarcerate the elderly until they die. All so the folks in the middle can spend as much time as possible on the treadmill.

    Did I digress? Clearly, this was a thought-provoking piece you can’t read while on the consumer treadmill. Great writing!



    • I think you’re right about values, G…we don’t ask what we truly value and we also feel confused about values. When I work with clients we spend time identifying “should” values, those that *seem* like our values but more likely come from society, scarcity, peer pressure, etc. Those “should” values often account for a lot of time spent on the treadmill you speak of.

  3. Hi, Patty,

    I thought your piece was beautifully written and am happy you decided to post it after all! Of course, I think face time is extremely important but have a bit of a different perspective as a caregiver and as one being involved in caregiving organizations.

    For caregivers, isolation is a huge problem. It is inherent in the role of caregiving – not everyone can easily get out of the house when they are caring for someone disabled or with dementia, for instance.

    Online friendships and online support groups have saved many, many caregivers from that isolation and “real” relationships have been formed and treasured.

    I understand completely what you mean about catching up and not having time to talk from the heart and needing face time but the value of online friendships can be huge in certain situations.

    I also would like to respectfully disagree with the previous comment about the elderly being “incarerated.” I’m sure she didn’t mean to paint with such a broad brush as there are countless caring people who have to make the decision to place a parent or sibling in a care facility either because they cannot provide the amount of care needed or because they have to work to support a family. I have not met anyone who has taken that decision lightly or considered it incarceration (including myself).

    I may not comment on all of your posts but I do enjoy reading each and every one of them! Take care, Patty.

    caregiving. family. advocacy.

    • Great to see you Trish! I wholeheartedly agree with you that social support/connection for caregivers is vastly more complex than what I’m writing about here. And in my book, caregivers are truly heroes and heroines.

  4. Lovely write and so full of warmth, Patty.
    I used to feel this way often when my work was not where my heart was. I craved the company of friends that I wanted to keep close. Now that what I do is closely aligned with my inner self, I consider my collaborators as friends and I hope vice versa; it’s natural for our meetings and conversations (about women, the environment, humanity, etc.) to be from our hearts.
    I still re-connect with old friends and it’s always nice, though I find that newer friendships held together by similar values tend, for me at least, to go deeper.

    • Lucky you to find that deep friendship connection at work! I used to have that and it was bliss. Although I don’t regret the choice I made to leave my job and become a solopreneur, I sure do miss the day-to-day interactions with my colleague/friends.

  5. Wow, very true! So many of my friends have moved away the last few years and while at first we talked on the phone, those long wonderful chatty talks, it’s now down to emails it seems. I am not much for emails, so I call them. I get an email back – so sorry, so busy. Sad. It’s like out of sight, out of mind. Gosh I wish that worked for me but it doesn’t!

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