Linger

It will do you good


Man with back to viewer picking salad greens, framed by autumn trees.
Rob lingering in the autumn garden at Evergreen while picking salad for dinner.

The word linger is an old-fashioned word. It has fallen from everyday vocabulary, along with that glorious expression for a pregnant woman – with child.


(As an aside, I always wished I could announce my five pregnancies by saying, ‘I am with child.’ It has a much gentler sound. It’s almost a whisper, compared to the harshness of pregnant. With child is two words that blend into one, while pregnant is one word that falls into two halves, cut by the grating g sound.)


But enough of that, and back to linger. To linger means to lengthen the time spent doing something, to tarry over a task, to dawdle along a path, to stay in one spot for longer than you intended.


The word makes you think of strolling through an English country garden in a long muslin dress with lace at your throat, or perhaps wearing natty buckskins and boots, on a perfect spring day filled with dappled sunlight, birdsong, and the scent of honeysuckle. There are no cars, no deadlines, no shopping malls, no phones, no nightly news. Just you and your lover held in the bower of nature as timelessness settles over you.


But we don’t have time to linger in the modern world. Who can afford to lose a day? Who has an afternoon to spare? Or even one hour to while away?


I have a suggestion.


If you don’t have even half an hour to linger, just linger for five seconds. If you find twelve opportunities throughout today to linger for five seconds, you’d have lingered for one whole minute by nightfall! What a modern achievement!


Remember that lingering can still involve movement, so you don’t need to stand still, like a statue, in the middle of a pavement packed with folk rushing down Main Street at peak hour. Just for five seconds, walk slightly slower. Feel the ground beneath the soles of your shoes. Enjoy the wind in your hair. Or if you’re hurrying a child to school, keep moving so you won’t be late, but for five seconds feel the texture and trust of the little hand in yours and breathe in the smell of green trees.


Linger In the Space of No Thought


The secret is to realise that lingering has as much to do with what you’re doing in your head as what you’re doing with your legs.


Let your busy mind rest.


Let it linger in the space of no thought.


Linger momentarily while you load the washing machine, put the car in reverse, stock store shelves, type another email, or pick stalks of tarragon and dill for the risotto. Just five seconds, times twelve, equals one minute of physical and mental bliss every day. And that’s probably more than you’ve had for years.


To linger isn’t old-fashioned. It’s also a modern concept wrapped up in terms like living in the moment, being present, living consciously, dwelling in mindfulness.


So, linger.


It’s a gift you give yourself.


With love, Marlane

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