I read somewhere that the average person spends five years of their life waiting.
Recently I’ve spent a lot of time learning the art of waiting, and in a country that loves numbers, flow charts and power point graphics I wonder if there is a statistic for the average time spent waiting for intangible things.
Oh, I’ve spent hours and hours waiting on the phone or in a line somewhere. And, like my other linemates, I’ve rolled my eyes and sighed, standing quietly, resigned to my fate as a “waiter.” Occasionally I’ve been guilty of exhaling thru puffed out cheeks and grumbling about the wasted time.
I’ve rushed through life -- in a hurry to grow up, to have a career, to accumulate possessions. I didn’t have time to wait. I had to be there now; had to have it now; had to discover it now. Waiting was for those who didn’t have anything better to do or the wherewithal to seemingly bend time to their will. I looked at anyone patiently waiting and somehow felt superior. I had appointments to keep! I had a career! I had a life! I was going places!
Ah, the folly of youth.
Yet, even in middle age I still felt the need to hurry – to not wait. I couldn’t wait for that next promotion, for the kids to get bigger, for parties, vacations, the next new thing to come along.
I am now aware there is a huge difference between waiting and WAITING….
I wait at the deli counter
I ‘WAIT’ for the Doctor to call
I wait in the line that snakes around the corner at DMV
I ‘WAIT’ for my child to come home from his first solo drive in the car
I wait while a disembodied voice tells me “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line - your call will be answered by the next available representative.”
I ‘WAIT’ for the call that says I’m a grandmother
I wait for my lunch order to arrive
I ‘WAIT’ for test results that may change my life forever.
Wait time is now something I look forward to. Waiting gives me time to stop the world for a moment. It forces me to just breathe; to take a moment to think, to reflect.
I’ve made mental apologies to all of those I had brushed aside or looked down on. I am somewhat ashamed of the ignorance and arrogance of my thoughts and youth. I now know the difference between waiting and WAITING – and I’ve learned to appreciate the wait.