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Life is for lingering!

Updated: Mar 28

There’s a TV mini series called 'Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job', which for the last eight weeks, has been the little dose of end-of-the-week escapism I never knew I needed!

The delight of this modern cross between ‘Wish You Were Here…’ and 'Grand Designs' wasn't owing just to the luscious Italian scenery, nor the sumptuous home makeovers on which the show loosely centred!

Instead, it was the pearls of thought-provoking wisdom, that seemed to be sporadically sprinkled throughout the narrative.

‘Life is for lingering!’ Amanda Holden most memorably said in one particular episode, and this idea has stuck to such an extent that here I am, weeks later, not just thinking about it... but writing about it.

Lingering is, by all accounts, something of a lost art in today’s go-go lifestyle, and maybe that’s what made it stand out as intriguing.

By definition, lingering means ‘to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave.’

Some might call this ‘delay tactics.’

Stalling, even.

Dragging your heels, at a push.

What’s interesting about all of these alternative descriptions, however, is that they tend to cast the habit in a fairly negative light. This, I suppose, goes a long way towards explaining why my instinctive reaction to giving lingering a go, was to tell myself how lazy I was being!

‘Don’t just sit there staring into space. Be productive!’ my mind implored!

‘How lazy are you!?’ it persists, as I endeavoured to persevere with the experiment.

Afterwards, I researched the benefits of ‘staring into space’ (a hallmark of the professional lingerer, perhaps) in an effort to disprove the logic behind my apparent ‘busyness bias’

It turns out, staring into space frees up processing power, and supports the insight-generating part of the brain in facilitating connections.

From this informed viewpoint, lingering (aka. horizon gazing, brainspotting or gazespotting) doesn’t just seem logical, but strategic.

Since becoming attuned to this idea, subtle nods to the ‘slowly does it’ aesthetic keep catching my eye. A testament, maybe, to the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon - a cognitive bias where something seems to appear more frequently after recently becoming aware of it.

For example, fashion brand Sezane recently opted for a promotional reel of nothing but a curtain blowing gently in the breeze of an open window. No trending sound accompanied this reel. Instead, the video was soundtracked only by the original, ambient buzz of distant conversations, singing birds, and rustling branches. Hush, as well, have jumped on the lingering aesthetic with this recent campaign.

Shortly after noticing this emerging trend, another platform posted a video of an Italian lady, perched by her window, captured unknowingly in a moment of quiet contemplation (linked here). In some way, this candid shot felt uncomfortable to watch, as though encroaching on a precious, private moment of solitude. A moment never intended to exist beyond the confines of this lady’s consciousness, but now on social media for all to spectate.

This niggle aside, the campaign for The Slow Mediterranean reinforced what I was coming to appreciate already. That slowness and stillness are on the crest of having a long-overdue moment in sunshine, the irony of which has not gone unnoticed!

The actor Richard E Grant summed up these sentiments exactly, in a recent ode he posted (linked here) on his new-found love of 'lingering' in the garden. Marcus Wareing, similarly, has been singing from the same hymn sheet with his new ‘Tales from the Garden Kitchen' series.

What I've been wondering about, off the back of this re-wilding trend emerging in the celebrity sphere, is how exactly to imbue the everyday with more of these in-vogue ‘slow’ qualities.

In other words, how to purposefully insert more full stops - or more commas, at least - into the poorly punctuated script that represents my average day.

It seems like a reasonably simple feat, in principle. After all, what we're talking about here is carving out mere seconds. Not minutes or hours, such is the case with so many other ‘life improving’ habits.

The commitment is a small one, and it revolves around pausing just long enough to savour one moment, but not so long as to compromise the potential for the next.

In the last few weeks, I've been consciously trying to hone my lingering skills at every opportunity. However, what I've learnt so far is that the secret might be less about recognising these moments, and more about releasing the guilt attached to leaning into them.

I was trying to work out, whether there were any overlaps between this idea, and that of 'the art of noticing.' In other words, the fine tuning of one's eye for life's micro-marvels. Actually, though, I feel like lingering has less to do with details and being more aware, and everything to do with just slowing. Things. Down.

It's not even really to do with carving out silence, solitude, or time in nature, per se - any of which could easily be confused with lingering.

Instead, it seems to be about savouring. Capturing anything that sparks an 'ohh, that's nice!' reaction (be it a memory recollected... or a wonderful view!) and allowing it to marinade, even if for a moment.

I tried it with the steamy bubbles of the washing up, for this felt like less of a cliché than gazing longingly at the sunrise, waiting for an epiphany. I also tried 'lingering' outside my front door after getting back from a run, in a bid to relish that exhausted-yet-satisfied feeling which, all too soon, would be overtaken by more pressing matters of the day.

Though seemingly inconsequential in isolation, these pockets of slowness might just have a cumulative benefit, mainly in that they create 'definition'. They sharpen the edges of all that so easily otherwise blurs into one. The chores. The habits. The mundane necessities. All the things that aren't particularly stand-out or exciting, per se, but which give a day a sense of substance - something which seems to become all-the-more important, with advancing age.

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