Remember when you’d come home from school and that one friend would call you to chat even after you just spent the entire day with them? Your mother would walk into your room and shake her head, wondering what more there could possibly be to talk about after you just spent the last seven hours together. Plus, you’re supposed to be doing your homework. I actually don’t remember talking about anything at all during those phone calls but I do remember playing with Furbies (remember those?!) or Beanie Babies together through the phone. The point is, that friend most likely didn’t want to call you to actually talk, they just wanted to spend more time with you in the only way they could. In return, taking the time to answer the phone made them feel valued in the relationship. It was never about the conversation, it was always about the sacrifice of time for someone else.
From a young age, we learned the value of time. As children, we try to maximize our time based on play. As adults, we try to maximize our time based on productivity. And in our elderly years, we just try to maximize time itself. I used to carve out time daily to foster my relationships but as I got older, I started to value my time more selfishly and began to view phone calls as an impediment to my productivity altogether. I could no longer understand why someone would call me, unless they actually needed something. Communicating through text messages and emails is painless but when my phone lights up with the repetitive melody of my ringtone, I immediately draw the conclusion that “I don’t have time for this right now” based on, well, absolutely nothing.
But what am I really saying I don’t have time for, the phone call or the person? They took the time to call you in the first place. They’re using their valuable time for you. Who are you to determine if they need you or not?
When my phone rang today, I’m not going to lie — I did think to myself, “Really, why are they calling me right now?” But I answered it — on the first ring. Not because there was a text message telling me they needed something, and not because there was a voicemail telling me they were trying to get a hold of me. I answered it because I’m realizing productivity doesn’t just apply to our daily responsibilities, it can also apply to how you can enrich yourself and others around you. The Kinfolk art of meaningful work doesn’t just involve your physical activities, it also includes how you communicate. You can answer a text message in the middle of writing an email and trying out a new recipe, but when you’re taking the time to talk on the phone, you’re giving the person your full attention. You’re able to truly listen to what they’re saying and if they don’t have anything to say, you’re truly able to understand what’s behind the silence.
Turns out, that phone call I had today was spurred by boredom but it was rooted by a lonely struggle they didn’t know how to vocalize. And when I answered the phone, I became that someone they wanted to confide in, and that thirty minute conversation deepened our relationship more than all our messages in the past years combined. We had one of the best conversations they didn’t know they wanted and I didn’t know I needed.
So take the time to answer the phone. If the second you spend texting a message can effect one’s decisions, imagine what a minute on the phone can do. The power of time is much greater than we think; it’s an invaluable reason to slow down and live meaningfully by communicating meaningfully
From now on, every time they call, I’m answering.
DAY 6. Love, Ro