Weekend Meditation: Lingering

I want to start to take my time with the things I really love, to linger more. I want to stay longer at the dinner table, spinning stories with my friends, feeling the gravitational force of our friendship pull us in closer until the candles sputter out and all the wine bottles are empty. And then maybe we'll move on to coffee and the next story and linger a little longer.

Confession: I'm starting to get cross when people answer the question "How are you?" with "I'm so incredibly busy!" Deeper confession: I'm most irritated with that answer when it comes from me. Lately I've been asking myself why it is that I'm so busy. I've been noticing the ways that I'm defined by this busyness, that perhaps a sense of self-importance is linked to it. Who am I when I'm not running about, always a little behind and anxious?

Of course we're all busy for many good reasons and I'm not suggesting that our obligations, tasks, errands, responsibilities and passions aren't really important, necessary even. But maybe it's time to take a closer look at this almost compulsive busyness many of us feel and ask what is going on here. Maybe it's time to slow down a little and try for less doing and more being.

Here's a place you can start: next time you have people over for dinner, don't be in such a hurry to leave the table. Keep the candles lit, the lights dim and allow the glow to draw you in. You can encourage lingering by serving small courses of little bites and sips after the main meal is cleared. Start with a small sweet, something uncomplicated like a bar of high quality chocolate broken up with some candied orange peel, and a glass of grappa. Follow that with coffee and a little cookie. After a bit, bring out the nice brandy and a bowl of tangerines and some nuts to crack. Simple, unfussy food that encourages everyone to stay put. (The grappa, it's been my experience, will encourage the stories.)

It's occurred to me how heretical it is to post this on the weekend before Thanksgiving, just as we are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. But perhaps this is also a good time to question our busy schedules, and sort out what's most important. Spending time with people I love or enjoy or are inspired by is at the top of my list. So is being able to sink into a good book or take long, meandering walks or spending the whole day in my kitchen, the music cranked high and every burner in use. What's on the top of your list and how often do you do it? Is there time for lingering in your life? Or are you just too busy?

(Image: Dana Velden)

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Weekend Meditation

Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.