New York Times columnist Frank Bruni does his summer holidays like my family and I: all together, in a beach house, for an extended period.
Here he is:
“EVERY summer for many years now, my family has kept to our ritual. All 20 of us — my siblings, my dad, our better halves, my nieces and nephews — find a beach house big enough to fit the whole unruly clan. We journey to it from our different states and time zones. We tensely divvy up the bedrooms, trying to remember who fared poorly or well on the previous trip. And we fling ourselves at one another for seven days and seven nights.”
Why do we do it? Why do we stay so long when – to be honest – it ain’t always that easy?
To be there for the good stuff.
“With a more expansive stretch, there’s a better chance that I’ll be around at the precise, random moment when one of my nephews drops his guard and solicits my advice about something private. Or when one of my nieces will need someone other than her parents to tell her that she’s smart and beautiful.”
He makes the key point: to truly be present, we need time and space. Actually we need extra time and space, so that we can just be there, present and ready for when life unfurls.
I think a lot of our lives are stressfully spent trying to make quality time. I’ve pointed out how imperative it is to make your own boundaries for this, and not to wait for someone else to sort your life balance. But the boundaries can’t be too tight. That’s the point, right? Quality time is expansive and spacious and moves as it needs to.
“We can cordon off one meal each day or two afternoons each week and weed them of distractions….But people tend not to operate on cue.”
It’s so true. In fact, I’d argue we need the luxury of expansive time and space to feel we can unfurl intimately. It always takes me a few days into the family holiday, or a few hours into hanging with a loved one, to open and share.
This additional point is great, too:
“Couples move in together not just because it’s economically prudent. They understand, consciously or instinctively, that sustained proximity is the best route to the soul of someone; that unscripted gestures at unexpected junctures yield sweeter rewards than scripted ones on date night.”
Tell me how this works for you…when did you tell your partner you love them? Over bombe Alaska in a Parisian restaurant. Or while you were playing Scrabble together at home one daggy Saturday night?