My Gift is Time

My gift is time. My time. It’s always a balancing act. I want to give you my time, but how much will it cost? What will the toll be? How will I know?

I’m not antisocial, I love to talk and discuss and put the world to rights. I would like a person, not any specific type of person, they can be short or tall, fat or thin, any race, any age, any sex, any neurotype, but they will be someone who I can talk to over a cup of coffee. Maybe once a week. Maybe once a fortnight.

The cost of my time will be half an hour’s preparation (low if I’m going to a familiar place with a familiar person), two hours at the meeting and a couple of hours to process everything that happened afterwards. Four and a half hours for two hours’ pleasure.

But that relies on that person appearing in my life fully formed, and they don’t do that. There’s a friendship tax that I don’t see other people paying.

Let’s say we meet at a hobby, I go to a new place for the first time, many hours of planning in the lead up to it, maybe two hours on the first day, then an hour at the hobby, then a while day to process and decompress. Not including the planning and processing before the day, that means twenty-seven hours for one hour’s pleasure (with no guarantee that I will enjoy it).

The next week it may be less, perhaps twenty hours for one hour. The week after, maybe it’s better again. Once I’m completely happy with it I may manage to optimise at around six hours for one hour of good.

That’s a lot of my time.

Time passes and I start to build a relationship with someone. I am wary, I don’t want to be overeager. Am I being too cold? Am I being too warm? Do they like me or are they just being polite? Can I ask them if they like me?

People assume I am self-contained and don’t need more than I have. Many people my age have well established networks, they don’t need a new person, it’s not necessary. Their casual involvement in so many activities, means they meet so many people regularly that connections are straightforward and without pressure. If it doesn’t work out, what does it matter, they’re not the only ship on the horizon.

The more friends you have the easier it is to make friends. You are more likely to meet people with similar outlooks through existing relationships.

Just as you need money to make money, you need friends to make friends.

Maybe enough weeks have passed and I’m almost certain this person is for me, the day of asking them if they want to grab a coffee comes – I’m back up to more that twenty-four hours of effort for an hour of joy.

Maybe they don’t want to – make that forty-eight hours to process what went wrong and adjust to the rejection. Maybe they do want to – another first, back to high planning and processing times, back to time and time and more time.

Maybe we hit it off, maybe we don’t. I have to put all my eggs in one basket, I can’t carry more than one, it’s too much time to invest. Where would I find the time to eat and dress and exist? I cannot casually connect here and there and everywhere. I cannot dance through the dandelions scattering seeds as I go.

I would love it if a person could drop into my world. Geographically convenient, conversationally witty, they would smell right and be kind and love to laugh. I could start off with the basic time-commitment: Just five hours a week or so for two hours’ happiness.

One day I hope to have the time to spend looking for you, before all the tocks have ticked away.

A lifetime ago I had more time to spend; I needed less sleep, I didn’t need to spend it on anyone else’s needs. These days everything is budgeting and penny-pinching. How can I best spend the time I have? Where can I make savings? Will I have something to spare for an unexpected bill?

The friendships I build seem different to those around me. I have few casual friendships. The friends I consider closest have all been in my life for more than ten years. I consider them solid and unchanging. None live nearby, I see some every few months, some yearly, some every few years. None of these friendships need watering. We pick up where we left off. They are my quality over quantity, but most were built at university or work, where I had no choice but to interact over a long period of time, and they built slowly and solidly.

I gave them my time and they paid it back with interest. I gambled and won.

Now it’s time for me to gamble again, to find that one person who is both compatible and nearby. There must be many, but where are they? Where are you? How much time will you cost? Will I be able to afford you?

24 thoughts on “My Gift is Time

  1. I am sitting here wondering about the strong friendships. Yes, most were made in University and are the pick up from where we left off years ago kind. Some are newer, but are over a decade old. I do have more forming but it is a slow process. I wonder how much contact time is required? I really struggled about whether I should put my latest post on a closed FB forum this morning before I went to bed and after maybe thirty minutes and a chunk of chocolate cake, I took the plunge. It appears to be a gamble that has paid off, but it took a bit of courage to look at FB this morning to see how people reacted. Hopefully a few more people realise what you are going through after reading your post. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could ask if others liked us and know that they would give a truthful answer!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is absolutely true, and well put as always. There is definitely a cost involved in friendship, and mostly I think I have decided that the cost is too high. Say you meet someone through a hobby. You get on, eventually you meet for coffee (and yes, that needs preparation time and then processing time). You still get on, You feel you could actually be friends. But what then? Being friends for most people means more meetings, spontaneous meetings, hanging out, doing things together. Suddenly the cost is mounting. You start pulling back a little because you’re all spent. But is the other person going to take that as a signal that you don’t want to be friends anymore? This is why I mostly avoid getting too close in the first place, because there’s the danger of committing to obligations that you then can’t fulfill. I have a couple of old friends I rarely see, but when we do, we take it up where we left off, and that’s great. I think most people wouldn’t understand this if you explained what you truly feel. But like you say, there must be some that do – but how to find them?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is beautiful and resonates with me so much. “Geographically convenient, conversationally witty, they would smell right and be kind and love to laugh.” Where are they and yes, will I be able to afford the time? I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Many thanks for this inspirational piece. I have been reading about time since the usual feeling that never there is enough time is so pervasive in our culture. But it is true that making friends takes time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have ALWAYS thought that the BEST gift anyone could “the gift of time”….society has changed us so much to be a technological group with limited actual physical relationships. I personally believe that you have the greatest gift to give! So keep giving your gift and I assure you that you will be rewarded.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, sorry for the delay, I have been en vacance! Yes you may, so long as you put a link to the original blog in and credit me as the author. I hope it helps spread the message! Tres bien!


  6. When I comment on blogs, I seem to need at least half hour to process it for the comment to be reasonable. With the extra time, it’s easier to recognize whether I should add more details or simplify them, and whether there’s unnecessary details, it’s too direct, and the correct tone was used. Explaining things in plain English takes extra processing. In face to face conversations, there’s even more details than in comments. It makes sense why many hours were needed for every hour social interaction.

    Liked by 1 person

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