I’ve grown too efficient. My life is so full, so bullet listed, and so scheduled that I’ve forgotten how to ramble. I’ve lost the knack for lingering long in conversation. My overfilled calendar and productivity addiction have limited me to directly to the point communication. Being long winded, and fully open, seems a luxury.
I don’t email anymore. I text. It’s faster.
An actual phone call? Forget about it. I’ll get off task. I pursue efficiency.
Unless a favorite author pens a blog post, I tend to only read short and catchy posts or numbered tips. For social media, I prefer the photos and concise descriptions of Instagram. I’m a mom with 100 tasks to attend to.
Isn’t that the direction we’ve moved? Our thoughts whittled down for quick consumption. We share brief updates, then we scroll on by and read 100 other friends’ summarized social media highlights.
We’ve made an exchange. More friendships, but less time to deepen them. Our networks have exploded, but our time to dip beneath the surface diminished.
We find people we connect with, that we could learn from, but our schedules are so full that we plan a dinner together six weeks from Tuesday, after 7:30 PM. When we finally sit knee to knee, again, we have time only for highlights.
But that’s not who I am. Not who I want to be.
When There Was Time for a Good Ramble
Back in the day, I lingered. I had space for a good ramble.
I remember the steady stream of my Mamaw’s stories of farms and kids, mischief and sons. She rarely stopped talking, rambling on whether we were in the room or not. I loved it, learned from it, and miss it.
I remember afternoon rainstorms when my family would sit on our covered porch. I can’t remember the conversations, but I’m guessing we rambled a bit to the cadence of roof tapping raindrops.
I remember nights of lying on a trampoline with my best friend. Our teenage eyes on the constellations, we chatted unedited about dreams, fears, and boys.
I remember relationships. Sweet moments when those I loved didn’t feel the need to make long stories short.
There is a time for being concise. In business, classrooms, or group meetings, intentional words are important. Other times, rambling has beauty to it. It’s a rare art, fading away along with sitting on benches and iced lemonade sipped on porch swings.
Rambling Takes Bravery
“I’ve spent most of my life and most of my friendships holding my breath and hoping that when people get close enough they won’t leave, and fearing that it’s a matter of time before they figure me out and go.” ― Shauna Niequist
I think there is more to blame than rushed living. I think rambling now takes bravery. Since we mostly exchange buffed and polished tidbits, we’ve gotten in the habit of fine-tuning what we share. You’ll rarely read a FB status of mine that doesn’t have the word “edited” by the date. I keep it tidy.
Sharing unedited, not yet composed thoughts, is a gamble. I risk bothering, and burdening, busy friends with my in-process thinking. Further, my rambles expose my less impressive side. The selfish, unrefined, weak, judgmental, and needy one.
So I wonder:
- Does he have time to listen?
- Will she be annoyed by my tangents?
- Can he handle my messy thoughts?
True community leaves space for unrushed, imperfect exchanges. It assures, “I value you, and want to live out this messy, beautiful life together.” Authentic friendship makes sense of life together. It’s raw, flawed, and untidy. It spurs me on, refuses to let me be anything but true, and doesn’t hesitate to challenge my selfishness, judgments, pride, or lacking faith.
The truth is, I’m a broken, work-in-progress soul. And my friends are too. So my hope is that we can open up the blinds and live out loud. That we can ramble, laugh, cry, help each other build ideas, sort through decisions and process through deepening faith journeys.
Connecting Amid the Clutter
“…what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.” — Shauna Niequist
One way my friends and I have found to connect beyond hurried texts and crowded, kid birthday parties is Voxer. It’s a walkie-talkie app with group messaging options. I send voice messages and the recipient(s) can listen when they can, stopping and restarting as needed. It restores the gift of deeply connected conversation, twenty-first century style. But I’ve noticed something. I catch friends apologizing for rambling almost every time.
Friends, I give you permission to ramble. I connect most with open, exposed, figuring it out you. I want to share unprocessed emotions and exchange unformed ideas. Life is all synched calendars and Twitter statuses, but I think we can still make space to tarry and talk.
So let’s sit at dinner long after the check. Let’s power off our 1,000 screen friends and be eye-to-eye friends with open space for each other. Let’s take walks, sit on porches, and find an occasional bench. Let’s have less efficient conversations and ramble a bit. Permission granted.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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