HeartNote, March 8, 2019: "A While"

Many of us don't sit in one place for long. The requirements, routines, and distractions have multiplied. Along with becoming busier, we've become somewhat restless. Our identities are defined by our actions.

We assign ourselves with the expectation that in order to be, there should be something for us to do. "To be is to do" has been assigned to Aristotle, and has become the ethos of our existence. Go to a party and meet somebody. The first sentence after the introduction is the phrase, "What do you do?"

I have a friend that runs a crane. He's been in and out of construction sites for almost forty years. He finds that he needs more rest but wants company in the resting process. So he'll call me now and again to, as he puts it, "just sit for a while."

I never rush him. He always lets me know when he's ready to have me leave. He's never specifically stated how long he wants me to stay. He only says, "come on over and sit for a while."

When we met last, after sitting in his yard with him for about a half hour, I pointed out to him that he never specifies asked him what defined what "a while" was.

"Let me ask you this," he said, "if I ask you to come over for dinner, are you going to ask me how long the meal will take? Just because "a while" doesn't define itself by an event doesn't mean it should be attached to a length of time. But since you asked, I'll answer your question."

"A while affords enough time for people to talk to one another. It presents each person time to relax and talk, with no expectations of an event to interrupt the conversation. And the talk between two friends can last an hour, two hours, fifteen minutes, or all night. Each one of those time increments is "a while." It is without definition, measured only by the content of the subjects and the willingness to sit, talk, and listen."

"It is done best outside, when the weather is nice and the rush of the week is set aside. Weekends are best but it doesn't matter, really."

"Just let the time go. Talk about anything. Be kind to each other. And don't have any place to go."

He got up, got himself another beer, and poured me some tea.

And we sat and talked...


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