What is the most valuable gift one can receive? The one which matters the most in the world?
It is the gift of time.
In our house we have sworn off of physical gifts. We have more than enough “items” which over-clutter our world. One more tchotchke or mug or figurine of a smiling girl is just one more thing to dust. One more thing to worry about accidentally knocking over. If anything we are trying to declutter. To get rid of the mad excess of a buy-buy-buy society and to pare down to the things which really bring us joy.
We’ve also sworn off of the “gift” of sending a person away. Is that really a nice mental image? “I care for you, so I don’t want to see you for a while.” Sure, I have always dreamed of going to Japan. It’s a place I’ve longed to see. But if I’m sent there all alone, that’s more a punishment than a gift. I want to be there WITH the people I love. To share in the adventures and experiences.
Which is why the best gift of all, the one which has the most powerful meaning to me, is the gift of time WITH the ones I love. Relaxing on a back porch and talking. Taking a walk through the woods. Learning more about their dreams and activities. Sharing my own histories and stories. Our time together helps me support them in their quests. It helps my own life live on, as my knowledge and stories get heard and understood by others. When I sip my tea in the evening, it’s those times with close friends and family which I reminisce over. Not the mug sitting on the back corner of a shelf. Not the time I went all alone to see a tree or rock or building. It’s the times I really connected with those I love.
Mugs break. Memories of an empty beach fade. What remains are the thoughts and emotions we make with those we love. The stories we hear. The dreams we help make a reality. The personal connection we have with those we love.
Yes, it’s often harder to give the gift of time. Life is busy. Schedules clash and overlap. That’s what makes it even more precious. Invest that effort. Make the time. Because life is incredibly brief. Humans don’t last forever. Find a way soon to be with those you love. Be mindfully present – and full of gratitude for this blessing.