The greatest gift? Boredom #1000speak #gratitude @1000speak

Asleep

It would not be usual for me to cite a Bible quotation but this one

It is more blessed to give than to receive

is a perfectly fine example of a way to live one’s life.

That said, in our world where the accumulation of stuff is a definition of success it has perhaps become somewhat clichéd, perhaps with an element of external validation, of self-praise even.

Now I’ll not knock those who give generously to good causes.

No but…

I do believe, in many ways it is easier to give than to receive.

We are a wealthy country in a wealthy part of the globe. We have surpluses everywhere. We even define poverty in ways that are relative  rather than absolute. I don’t say this is wrong and indeed narrowing the gaps between haves and have nots will help reduce the tensions in society but it does mean we can be a generous nation. To ourselves and, within bounds, to others.

But this passing around of stuff, this dipping into the pocket and handing over of change, texting a number while sat in front of the TV, filling a tin, signing a direct debit, supplying a stunning range of charity shops with, yes, stuff…. It does good, of course and it makes us feel good without major effort. We might expect  a little congratulation too, a little gratitude from the recipients or those who are collecting on their behalf.

But we are poor in one way. We are poor in time. We have temporal poverty in the West. We press and hustle and race and don’t stop to smell anything. We are a nation of sweeping gestures and missed small moments.

You read so many people who are crying out for more time, trying to craft some space in their lives. When did the expression ‘quality time’ creep into our vocabulary? He/she wants to spend more quality time with his/her children/spouse/friends/family.  What about good old fashioned unconditioned, unqualified time? Rubbish time. Time filled with nothing but your presence. Just you and them and, well, nothing else.

Giving time. That’s what’s a truly blessed gift these days. That’s what people are really grateful for. That’s a poverty gap we need to fill in our lives. I’m grateful for the broken down bus or the cancelled train that means I have to stand and wait and stare and think and wonder. I’m grateful when I leave the house to walk the dog and can stand in the park and notice a tree I’ve not seen before even though it’s been there for 70 years and me for 25. I grateful for days of waiting in for the gas man so I can reflect. Snow days when I’m trapped. I’m delighted when I sit with my wife, no words needed, just sharing the mutual gift of company. And I’m grateful to be able to help with a group of special needs youngsters because they just accept me and my time as a natural thing that benefits both of us without side.

We need to embrace delay and cherish boredom. Be grateful when your plans fail and you are left floundering. Because in those moments of frustration are moments recaptured from the tyranny of time. Treasure every opportunity to just be.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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33 Responses to The greatest gift? Boredom #1000speak #gratitude @1000speak

  1. sourgirlohio says:

    I love your perspective here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kiri says:

    So true. At this moment I am sitting in bed reading and writing and feeling a little guilty for not “doing” something else. It’s not exactly boredom, but it is some time to recharge. I could learn to do a little more of just being.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ali Isaac says:

    It’s a strange thing, giving your time to someone who needs it. It may seem like such a little thing of no consequence, but the reward is huge, and its an entirely different feeling to the one you get when you donate cash.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dylan Hearn says:

    Beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. As you know, I volunteer as chair of our local preschool, which wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the kindness of many people donating just a small amount of time to help run it.

    I also try to make sure my two boys have time where they’re bored, less so they can be contemplative but more so they learn to be creative and entertain themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Timely read for me Geoff. We certainly are a time poor society and I have to admit I belong to it. Plan on taking note of your post and stopping and smelling the daisies.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very true. I feel a sense of guilt about the inadequacy of monetary donations. We suddenly needed to take a train from East Anglia to the Highlands of Scotland (to bid farewell to a 102-year-old uncle). The three days of time with each other and some books and landscapes were special.

    Like

  7. Sacha Black says:

    Well this is thought provoking. AfrickingMEN to temporal poverty. I am one of those that bitches constantly. I’m never present or mindful like ever because I’m always trying to juggle a thousand things and remember the next job.

    More than poverty it’s a kind of slavery. Lovely post geoffle. I must remember these 1000speak posts

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Sacha. Yes, I get your dilemma. I’m not much of a meditating guy but I do like drifting off when I can and letting my head spin round. And giving some time that is precious just to be with someone gives me a boost, possibly more than it does them. As Ali says it’s a different scale of good feeling because time is so precious.

      Like

  8. Charli Mills says:

    “We have temporal poverty in the West.” So true.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. roweeee says:

    It’s interesting, Geoff because I have quite a lot of time thanks to my health issues, although as Christmas approaches and being the end of our school year, all the concerts etc are springing up so my time isn’t quite as expansive. I couldn’t agree with you more about all that rubbish about quality time. It’s an excuse. When you don’t spend much time with your loved ones, you don’t know what you’re missing. It all falls into the “what you don’t know you don’t know” category. Geoff was only away for a few days this week and he works long hours but we missed him. We knew he wasn’t here. He doesn’t always talk a lot but he’s here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Ro. Glad you agree. I have a post in there somewhere about coming back from a conference and feeling alienated after just a couple of days, because I’d missed a couple of things

      Like

  10. This was a great post Geoff and a timely reminder, to all of us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    Friday night, after a long drive home, I just wanted to crash out in a chair, have a beer, eat junk and watch TV – ideally an action movie with no plot to speak of. But I was due out an hour or so later at my sailing club’s annual social event, so I grumbled a bit, got changed, then went out and had a great time. Part of that great time involved rediscovering some muscles – a sign of my age that I now find dancing so physically challenging.
    Yesterday, I was tired, but it was mainly a physical tiredness.
    Increasingly I find my tiredness is born from tension and stress. A life filled with too much activity, and in which I’ve become largely reactive rather than proactive. The thing is, a lot of that activity is done with the best of intentions – both for myself and others. I don’t get involved with organising and managing the sailing club, but I made sure I’m qualified to manage a Safety Boat, so I can take some of the pressure off the core committee members. At my speakers club I am currently Education Director, which means I put together the development programme for members, which is challenging and rewarding, especially as you see individuals grow in confidence. But this week has seen me very focused on helping out with the local amateur theatre group – two nights running the bar and one in the box office (not to mention going to watch a play and then write the review for the local paper).
    They’re all giving things, but – as Geoff says in his post – it can be easier to give than receive.
    The last few weekends, I’ve found I’ve been using up some of my time working, trying to catch up. But when I was ready to collapse on Friday evening, I made a decision to just relax this weekend. Unfortunately, I was already committed to being at the theatre again last night, but that aside, I’ve given myself no jobs to do, no targets to hit and, although I’ve not allowed myself to be bored, I’ve given something to myself. Time.
    This post from Geoff seemed, well, a timely reminder. Not exactly aimed at the position I’ve found myself in, yet I related to it so well.

    Like

  12. Vince says:

    One of the good things about not being able to work full-time is that I have time – and when I am well I am able to give that time to others who need it.

    Great post 🙂

    Like

  13. Hemangini says:

    time is the greatest of gifts that one can give to someone… It’s difficult today to take time out of your life and just enjoy it with someone, specially difficult if you have to do it for a stranger… but wroth it. Loved this post.

    Like

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