Last night I watched something on one of those TV channels that loves adverts – or, rather, the revenue they bring in. I hate them. Not only do I not want a deep pile shag wool carpet with drip-resistant fibres and enough depth for the dog to get mislaid in overnight, or a 6-seater sofa in ivory tweed for the six members of the family who can’t wait to sit very close together and in a dead straight line of an evening, but it’s the interruption that bugs me most. There I am, trying to work out who committed the crime, or wallowing in the poignancy of a tragic drama, allowing myself to float away on a cloud of wonderful acting and exquisite prose, when my thoughts are interrupted mid-reverie by squeals of over-excitement about some new and luminous cereal that the whole family will adore including the dog – especially the dog, after a confusing night in the shag pile.
It got me thinking about what really matters in life, and not one of them can be purchased with a credit card. Time, for example. Time for looking. Time for loving. Time to give away, to share.
Although time is the one thing that all of us crave and all of us lack to some degree, it is the last thing we seem to treasure. We say we are running out of it. We say we haven’t any to spare, and yet, time is constant, dependable, a never-ending supply day after day, year after year, and we all have the same amount to spend, regardless of our situation.
I think we need reminding sometimes, of the important and lasting valuables of life, ones no online site or department store will ever sell. In particular, a reminder about our family members need for our time, because from time freely given comes involvement, sharing, comradeship, bridge-building and, above all, the ability to see what makes someone happy, what makes someone sad. It trounces loneliness. It requires no particular skills, no clever techniques. It is just sitting with another or walking alongside them and asking gentle questions, talking together about things you can’t buy, and sharing, listening and smiling. It is about being there and being there again and again, stepping into their world, be they 5, 15, 50, or 150. It’s about saying no to ourself and our own busy schedule and throwing it into the air, asking the question ‘What is important here?’ and finding to our own surprise, that it isn’t what we thought it was. Lunch can wait, the TV news can be missed today. Someone needs us, and not tomorrow at ten, but right this minute.
We all want time with the ones we love and if it means we don’t get an expensive gift, or a new carpet/sofa/gadget, we honestly, honestly won’t mind. In fact, we will find we didn’t really want them at all. What we wanted is what we have; a loved one who wants to be at our side; one who cares deeply enough to turn from their own world and to step into ours; who feels our joy and our sadness; who never lets us down. Relationships can be saved this way. All of them.