A former student of mine lives in Poland. He’s been there for a long time. A few years ago, he was back in this country visiting family. We talked for a bit.
Steve talked about a typical day: riding on the train, waiting in lines at the grocery, at government offices, for utilities. As he talked about the amount of time he spent on just living, I wondered how he got any working done. Everything was, to my ears, unproductive.
A friend of mine lived in Sierra Leone for several years. His work was translating. His time was spent fixing things, pulling people out of ditches, solving resource issues. As he talked about the amount of time he spent on just living, I wondered how he got anything done.
One day last week, I went to pick up food for the people I work with. Kim had tried faxing our order for 30 minutes, the time it took for me to get to the restaurant. I ended up having Kim read me the order over the phone as I repeated each item for the person at the counter. I then had to wait for the order to be prepared. My whole morning ended up shifting becaused o get food from that particular place.
I didn’t get frustrated with the waiting as I thought about the waiting that my two friends have done, the sheer volume of time spent in line at places offering little choice. I also realized that what I was doing was spending the time as a way of saying to the people in our office that people matter. For someone’s birthday, for the opportunity to choose this restaurant, offering my time seems to have been a very good thing to do.
I realized as well that my friends were spending all that time on living because they believe deeply that investing your time, your self, your life in offering people hope is a pretty good investment of time. For them, and for me for a few minutes last Thursday, the only productive way to demonstrate that you care is to not produce anything. It is to invest time.
It is to actually live love.
Maybe it is worth the waiting.