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Senior Correspondent

The Lost Art of Lingering

The Lost Art of Lingering


Coach Hank, a member of The Quality Coach! team, likes to opine that most of us are over stimulated and under inspired these days. He reminds me to practice defensive driving by assuming that drivers are likely multitasking, or using one or more electronic devices, while operating a motor vehicle. 

My dad used to call it an accident waiting to happen. He could sure predict the future on those deals. 

I admit it, when stopped in traffic or waiting at a stop light I can hardly resist the urge to check on things. You know, things! Things like, "Did anyone e-mail me within the last 30 seconds? What about texts? How are the Cardinals doing?  What's happening with my Facebook friends? What about the stock market? What news might be breaking? Should I listen to voice messages? Surely, I should tweet about something!"   

Before I know it, my text finger starts twitching and that cute little computer disguised as a phone jumps out of my bag and into my hand, pulling me into a whole other reality. No Joke! It's like having an out of body experience.

Honking horns cue me to return and, by all means, proceed defensively. Who knows what sleep-deprived, over-achieving, electronic-dependent driver is lurking out there just waiting to run me over.

Our lives have become congested, chaotic and downright confusing. The coveted skill of multitasking is a strength when it comes to folding laundry while starting a second load. But, for more complex tasks, I think not.

Our society tends to value efficiency over effectiveness. Translation — let's make more widgets to compensate for the bad parts we will surely produce. However, we all know how that worked out for us.

If you are still with me, as in not checking your mail, texting, reviewing your account balances and writing a proposal all at the same time, hang on. I am heading somewhere with this little rant. It is simply this: like it or not, we are a "need for speed" society. We want it now, and I mean now! The question becomes, "At what cost?"

In a recent conversation with friends and colleagues, Madi and Julie, we visited about how we no longer linger. In other words, we no longer linger at a favorite shop to chat with the shopkeeper. We certainly do not linger with our health care providers who must meet their numbers. We do not linger with our friends and families all that much. Lingering with our work colleagues is frowned upon unless discussing business. We probably don't have time to linger over meals, a cup of coffee or a book. 

Coach Hank likes to say that we mistake ourselves for human doings, rather than human beings. Why in the world would we want to linger when we have so many ways to entertain ourselves? 

I can only speak for myself here. When I take the time to visit our local farmer's market, I linger with the folks who raised the produce. I am nourished not only by the fresh vegetables and fruits, but by connecting with the person who planted and harvested the food itself.

When I visit with friends or family, I reconnect with who I am and why I do what I do, as each one has helped me become a better me.  When I visit one of my favorite shops, I give myself permission to linger with the proprietor or a member of their sales staff. I walk away with something more valuable than merchandise — connection with an entrepreneur who has put everything on the line to provide wonderful quality goods and services. 

Yes, the art of lingering is largely lost these days. Just like the art of front porch sitting.

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