Don’t forget to smell the roses while there’s still some summer….
While we attributed the internet and inhibitions to the waning of visiting friends impromptu, I want to delve deeper into the reasons why people have so drastically changed from our parents’ generation. Why is visiting with each other a next to extinct concept altogether? And how are we going to revive it? Aren’t hang-ups, overthinking relationships, inhibitions the reason for the rising instance of anxiety, stress, isolation which is also blamed for cancer and various other diseases?
My friend regales me with an anecdote of how she rang the bell of her neighbour to inform him that she’d just shifted into the apartment block and had called upon him to say hello. He was flabbergasted. “Never in 20 years of staying in this home has someone ever done this” he laughed, at once happy and welcoming. Even hearing this little episode brought a happy smile to my lips. I realised it had seldom happened to me too. People set up appointments so formally and come over so gingerly. I miss those days when you just called upon a friend and they insisted you stay over for dinner? You just invited someone to stay to dinner with you when they popped in to discuss something. Why has this become an unheard of habit?
Uppermost is the joy of sharing unplanned moments. Be it joy, pain or common interests. The point is that loneliness need not be an option when most human beings crave the same bon homie and conversation. It comes out of inhibitions due to the perceived lack of inclination or time constraints or priorities of other kinds that the friend you wish to visit may have. It comes of the fear of hearing a perceived rejection. Of embarrassment at the other person you offered to visit saying they are busy. Of fragile ego’s. Of the passing of an era of robust self-worth where if your friend was out you left a message and the friend promptly popped over to return your visit happily. It is the current self-consciousness of perfect homes in an urban scenario where you don’t wish to be caught off guard but also the inability to switch off from responsibilities.
Ask yourself, are you unable to allow yourself some time away from obligations, social media, and duties? Are you unable to just let some time pass with a happy chat? Especially in metros like Mumbai and Delhi it is an absolute given that before you visit someone, you must call them and make an appointment however close you are, you just have to ‘get permission’.
The turnaround lies with us within, as I realised with my workers at an architectural site I am executing. I sat on a wooden stump at work and shared a laugh and a cuppa with them recently. It seemed to break an invisible divide there had existed between us all. Cliché though it is, to have a friend we have to BE that friend. We wait for friends to make the first move and wonder at the lonely world around us. It is a task, but with little beginnings a smile, a ‘good morning’ & you’ve made a lasting bond. Hear a friend out when you ask ‘how are you?’ Respond with attention. Create a bond!!
Ignore the calls on your cell when a friend is opening his heart out to you, look interested when sharing a meal with a friend. Force yourself not to surreptitiously glance at your phone.
Don’t forget to smell the roses while there’s still some summer. Give time and nurture the relationships you enjoy, make trees out of saplings. Relationships of any and every kind are amongst the best investments you will have in your portfolio.
— The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org