Monday, June 5, 2017

Hello?

It's 11:00 a.m. on any given day and I talk to my mother on the phone.  She rattles off the list of people she's already talked to that morning.  Before I've got all the sleepy rubbed out of my eyes, she's had meaningful conversations with a string of family and friends.  She has a good friend who's also a widow and they talk first thing each morning to check on each other and make sure they both "made it through the night."  Then, she calls and checks on her sick friends.  She calls to keep in touch with friends who've moved away. She calls her cousins and elderly aunts in other cities and visits with them through the phone.  She calls the older ladies in her Sunday school class to see if she can help them in any way.  She's just the queen of keeping up with people.  And I'd bet that she's pretty typical for her generation. 



Our generation, well, we used to be good at that.  I mean, really good.  We'd talk and talk and talk on the phone for hours.  Our age ushered in the miracle of call waiting and caller ID and free long distance.  Exciting breakthroughs occurred on our watch. They were life changing in our phone centered world.  We'd call and check in with friends between visits.  We'd call to sing "Happy Birthday"....before Facebook.  We'd call to get a recipe.  We'd call just because we were bored.   


I remember having to shift the phone from one ear to the other to relieve the aching pressure points or to cool the heat radiating from the phone.  Pretty often, the phone would beep to warn me that it was about to go dead.  It had even had enough of my conversation.  I'd talked all the life right out of the battery laughing, telling stories.....maybe snorting.  I remember hanging up my cordless phone and seeing the call time being 2 or 3 hours.  My neck would be hurting from clinching the phone between my shoulder and cheek while multitasking in the laundry room or over the heat of the stove.  It was the way we'd always done keeping in touch except with the newfound freedom of not being tethered to the wall by a coiled cord.  Between visits and lunches and get-togethers, it's how we communicated with our friends. 

Our kids got older and they started this new texting thing.  We made fun of it at first.  Call your friends and actually talk to them, we'd preach with cordless phones stuck to our ears. We warned them they weren't going to know how to have actual conversations with other people if they didn't quit all that texting.  But, while we jeered at it, we also began to see the value of being able to shoot a quick message in a setting where a phone call wasn't possible or when we just didn't have time to spend in an involved conversation.  I mean, you have to admit it's invaluable in certain situations. 


But, then, our lives got so busy.  So, so busy.  Busy with our jobs and our families and we started leaning on it more.  I don't know how it looks from where you are, but, from here, life feels like it's spinning so incredibly fast, these days.  I don't remember it ever being this way.  People have so many commitments.  So many places to be.  We're all hanging on this twirling globe for dear life.  Just trying not to get flung off by the whirl of incessant activity.  Our time is so limited and we've become so very selfish with it.  I guess when you're running short on something, you tend to guard it more carefully.  Hover over it and hold it tighter than before.  


Well, we saw the time savings and easy maintenance that texting and social media provided in relationships.  I mean, after all, you could check in with someone without all the energy it took to sound chipper.  You didn't have to act like you were in the best mood if you weren't.  You didn't have to stop what you were doing to have a conversation.  You could carry on with your day without getting bogged down in details.  You just carefully crafted a message with a well placed emoji for emphasis and sent it and, just like that, you'd shown the recipient that they were on your busy, busy mind.  We lowered the bar a notch or two and soon became satisfied with the new way we were doing things.  We realized we'd discovered the easiest mode of maintaining a friendship and we're all about easy, these days.


Our kids, well, that's all they've ever known.  That's how they've always communicated.  How they've always done friendship.  But, us?  Well, we remember when it was different.  When it was better than it is now.  And, sometimes, I think we find ourselves feeling lonely.  Unsatisfied with our 900 Facebook friends, 400 Instagram followers, and phones that only ding and never ring.  It's like how we're doing it now just isn't cutting it. 


Yeah, it's easier.  But, maybe it's not enough.  I think if we were honest, we'd say that we find ourselves missing the voice.  The sound of the phone ringing and a friend being on the other end.  No typed word can replace that.   


I've got friends from different circles and from different moments of life.  Our varied groups try to get together as much as we can.  Even though we do a pretty good job at it, it's never as often as we'd like. I ran into one of those friends, last week.  She said something to me that I've heard so many times before...."I never talk to anybody and I need that in my life right now."

Maybe because, at our age, our kids don't require as much.  Some of our nests are emptying.  We don't feel quite as needed as we once did.  I'd dare say that many of us are struggling with the downshift in our roles as moms.  It's all we've known for a really, really long time.  Maybe we're starting to see more life in the rearview mirror than we see up ahead.  Life is changing and we just need our friends.  Maybe that's what she was really trying to say.  Maybe that's what I was thinking, too.     


I suppose time savings is a really good thing to look for when deciding how we should do our banking, our cooking, our housework, our taxes, our shopping.  But, maybe it's not the best way to do friendship.  Maybe the really important things demand an investment from us.  Maybe the good stuff refuses to come cheap.  Maybe because if valuable things came easily and without much cost, we wouldn't take care of them.  Just maybe there's no such thing as a shortcut to the things that really matter in life.     


I'm guilty. 


So guilty of taking the quick and easy way. 


Like trying to get a home cooked meal from a frozen dinner.  As quick and appealing it looks from the outside, we'll always find that the content just isn't the same. 


So, in the days ahead, if you hear a strange ringing coming from your purse, it may be me calling.


If I remember correctly, you would then pick it up and say, "Hello?" 




I'm going to try to do better.




Y'all have a good Tuesday!


And call a friend today!!   






  


        

1 comment:

  1. My mom and I talk on the phone and I love hearing her voice. She doesn't text, but she has a iPad for Skype, which is fabulous to see and talk to her great grandchildren:). Also mom has a Facebook page, to see what's going on with her people.
    But really it's all about the voice, that connection. Another great post Joni,
    Kathleen in Az

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