A Time to Talk
By Robert Frost
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
This succinct 10-line poem struck me by its simultaneous universality and distance from today’s world. Although American poet Robert Frost passed on only a few decades ago, his writing seems to come from another era, another universe. When was the last time you saw a man hoeing his field? For that matter, when was the last time you saw a farm field altogether? Obviously, times have changed since the horse-riding, field-hoeing 1920s. Yet the salient change that we should be concerned with has not to do with agriculture, but with our behavior towards one another.
As New Yorkers, I’m sure we can all agree that our day-to-day lives are fast-paced, even overwhelming, at times. Between rushing to classes, putting in those long hours at work, running errands, and extracurricular hobbies—not to mention those underrated-but-necessary activities eating, breathing, and sleeping—who has time to keep in touch with old friends? I know that if I don’t make a conscious effort to get together with my friends outside of college, my chances of seeing them before their wedding days are slim to nil.
With the wonderful inventions of the computer and telephone (and, let us not forget, the computer-cell phone combo), one would think communication would be a cinch. And it may be—but only in a small sense. Call me old-fashioned, but I hardly think a 2-line instant message or BlackBerry Messenger (better known as BBM) qualifies as a legitimate conversation. Truly keeping in touch with someone means speaking to them every once in a while, even if meeting up proves infeasible. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to call someone up to talk these days, it is rarely done. I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself. And in this case, I’m guilty of not quite practicing what I preach.
Since graduating high school, I’ve realized that time will either bond people together, or it will push them further apart. Sadly, a couple of my good friends from my teenagehood have drifted so far away that I feel as if a brick wall now stands between us. Maybe if I’d tried a little harder, called a little more often.... If it’s not too late to rebuild some friendships, maybe I can still “go up to the stone wall,” as Frost says (albeit in the figurative, not literal sense), and make the connection with my long-ago friends.
No one sets your priorities but YOU. So the next time a friend calls, consider putting down the novel and picking up the phone. The book will still be waiting for you tomorrow. Your once-close friend might not be.
- Miriam Harari
Photo source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_9NR1w0QYx6c/SQi-0w83ORI/AAAAAAAAACA/eYvi3TnNpcI/s1600-h/time+to+talk.jpg