Monday, 17 May 2010

Time and Relationships

Time has flown by.

Life has been busy.

Some things have had to go lower on the priority list and writing here has been one of them.

While I am amazed that even my 5 year old has the perspective of "time flying" there is no doubt that adults I know feel the same.

As a child I recall that a year seemed to drag on and on and on.  Was it because there weren't so many activities, that I experienced more boredom than my children have experienced, or that many times my home environment held an element of fear that could make hours feel like days?

I'm not sure the reason, but I do know that, currently, it seems a universal (or at least American) concept that time moves quickly.  With that sense of time rushing by, it becomes more and more difficult for us to prioritize our tasks and relationships.

Of late I'm drawn to think of time and space in terms of relationships in our life: relationships with our children, our extended family, our dear friends and our distant friends.  I ponder, what are the essential ingredients of a friendship or meaningful relationship?  Do we base it on the amount of face to face time together or do we evaluate it by the amount of quality interactions we have or the love and care we send out to those individuals?

I'm not sure that there is anything more relevant than having adult aged children to help me answer that question for myself.  Last June, my then 21 year old daughter spent a month volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya.  She helped me negotiate the terrain of ordering a phone card over the internet so that I could call and text her while not draining my bank account.  What ensued was a month of the most genuine consistent interaction we had ever experienced while being a world apart and her being in the midst of a poverty stricken third world country.  The superfluous complaints or anxieties of our day to day lives seemed trivial with that distance between us and we genuinely discussed what was going on in our lives and provided each other with loving support.  It was really beautiful.

I'm very proud of the adult children that have moved on from our nest; we now have 4 young adults, one that just graduated college and will be starting her life in a big city.  It's interesting to see their priorities regarding their relationships with their family when the only pressure they have is self imposed and how they juggle their connections with myriad friends and family members.

We all make choices about who gets this precious time of ours during these days that fly by.  While folks are more virtually connected, the face to face connection has become even less of a necessity to maintain meaningful relationships.

So the secret to maintaining a meaningful relationship?  You can't look it up.  It can't be defined.  That definition will vary from person to person and family to family.  But one sure ingredient?  Connection.  And for meaningful connection to happen there must be more than one person making the effort.

Today I am reminded that we all must slow down as time rushes past us and take a moment to connect with those we cherish.  The mundane tasks of our day to day living must not trump our relationships.  Work will be there, the garbage and laundry and yard and activities will be a constant.

Meaningful relationships are not a given in our lives, they are a choice; they must be nurtured so they do not fade away.