Have you ever felt guilty for not getting enough done, or measured the success of your day by how productive you were? I used to do both of those things on a regular basis. Doing nothing, puttering around, and lingering were all things I considered a waste of time. Even though I’d indulge from time to time, I felt bad about it. As if because I wasn’t actively contributing, I was letting people down.
Even after I quit my job in 2011 after years of simplifying and intentionally creating more time, I struggled with how I spent my time. I was so used to proving my worth by doing. Even though walking my dog around the lake on a Monday morning instead of going to a meeting or checking email made my heart swell, I wondered if it was the best way to spend my time.
I’m happy to report, it was. The joy from those walks continues to fill my heart and the pain of the Monday morning crazy meetings and attempts to get ahead of the week has faded. With those memories to fuel the fire, I rarely second guess lingering longer, noticing the beauty around me for no other reason than to notice the beauty around me, or a decision to say no to an opportunity if it helps to protect my time.
Why we don’t linger longer
Guilt impedes our ability to linger longer, and so does busyness, or the habit of busyness. Guilt tells us if we do more, we can be more, have more, and prove to everyone else that we are more. We think if we have free time, our house should be cleaner, or our children should be involved in more activities, or we should be finding ways to fill up all of our time. Those are the lies that guilt tells us, but guilt doesn’t stand a chance when we are fully present. When we turn our attention to the meaning of the moment we are in, we don’t trust the lies, or feel the pull to do more.
Busyness is another lie we’ve listened to for far too long. The problem with busyness is we can be busy without accomplishing much. When we pull back from busy behavior, we can be more thoughtful about the work we do, and more present for the people we love and things we care about.
The reason we don’t linger longer is because we feel bad when we aren’t trying to do or have it all, or we don’t think we have the time. The good news is we can change. We can make cuts to free up time, or choose to push the guilt aside, or just simply experiment with lingering for a few minutes each day.
Why lingering is meaningful
Lingering is falling in love. Think about the evenings you’ve sat around a table after a meal, talking and laughing instead of rushing to clean up the dishes. You fell in love with the people around you and the evening you shared. Likewise, lingering over a sunrise, a good book, a long walk, or a moment of solitude encourages love; love of what you are experiencing, love of who you are spending time with, and love of who you are.
When we aren’t in love, it’s easier to close up and turn to fear and worry, but when we are falling in love, we are more hopeful, more compassionate, and more open-hearted. Lingering helps you remember yourself and what matters to you.
Let’s linger longer and fall in love.