At the moment we are having a little situation going on that involves waiting. I’ve never been good at waiting. I’m still not good at waiting. I hate waiting. Life is filled with waiting — or so it would seem.
Aside from all the other things I might need to learn about life, grasping the “Only Now” is a toughie for me.
I can’t remember the last time I stood in line waiting for a table at a restaurant. I figure there are enough places to eat in this world that if I really need to go out to eat I’m not going to waste my life standing around waiting to be waited on on. That doesn’t make sense to me. No place is that great it’s worth wasting my life on.
Waiting in the morning, or in the middle of the night are a different story. If I can’t sleep, I get up. I get up whether it’s 7:00 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. or midnight, or 10 p.m. If I lie down and sleep eludes me I get up. (Conversely, since retirement, if I’m tired during the day I lie down too!) I often think about friends I have known over the years who were confined to bed, or who were paralyzed and I wrack my brain to know how I would cope with the same.
We have always been turn the page, new chapter people. The both of us have never felt the need to prolong good byes, or to linger over changes. If we make a decision to do something we have used our best intelligence and considered all the facts of which we are aware and once the decision is made there’s no looking back and no regrets.
I don’t know about you but it seems as if waiting becomes a bigger part of life as one ages. (And I’m not just talking about waiting for the doctor in his lobby, though from the sounds of it that’s a regular pastime of many older adults.) Perhaps if I’d been in the military I’d have learned, better, how to wait. And of course most of my career I worked for myself so waiting wasn’t a huge deal — if something wasn’t working I’d go on to some other project for a while.
Of course for the few years span when I drove truck, waiting was a huge deal. It wasn’t waiting to unload that was the problem; unloading wasn’t much of a deal: I drove flatbed and most of the time the people I was delivering to actually wanted the stuff I had on board — and it’s amazing how quickly a flatbed can be unloaded with a crane or a couple forklifts! It was waiting for a load was my hell. With satellite dispatch, sitting in the truck waiting for the satellite system to beep and tell me where I was going next was murderous. And in the days before that when I had to call into an office for a load — only to be told, “call me back in three hours” — I used to fume and smolder!!!!
I admire people who are good at waiting. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I know mine; sitting still is not one of them; consequently I don’t appear to be waiting patiently, even when I am. I admire a good ‘wait-er.’ I quickly get tired of sitting. I fidget and shuffle. It’s not exactly ‘nervous’ energy — I can be quite calm about it all — but my butt gets tired and I move about— a lot.
We will continue our little vigil here — I guess we don’t have much choice, do we! I find things to think about. Funny, though, when I do I’m no longer in the “now.” My thoughts take me to other places, to other times, to joys and to puzzlements. I enjoy the thinking part of waiting. It’s the waiting part of waiting that I don’t like.
I often think about a dear blind friend in England. Back in the 1990’s I was visiting her in her home and we were scheduled (more waiting) to attend a conference late in the day. We’d had our meal — which she cooked expertly. We’d done the dishes. And being a good 40 years older than me by the time the dishes were washed and dried she’d done more than usual and was tuckered. We sat together in her lounge waiting for a friend who was going to drive us to our appointment.
“It’s good to be ready and waiting…”
She said. I looked at her. She repeated herself. “It’s good to be ready and waiting.” The second time she emphasized the waiting.
At various times in life I have thought that maybe I finally understood what she meant. But as I sit here this morning waiting I realize once again that this is something I have not yet mastered. I believe in Higher Powers, I believe in great causes, in right and wrong, and grand plans.
Somehow, there’s something I’m supposed to master about “waiting” that I am not getting. It’s like I can feel the fact that there is a ‘lesson’ here and I don’t get it — but that inability to master the lesson is driving me batty! Either that or it’s all in my imagination.
Of course, if you have been paying attention you’ll realize that my friend Amy Wood — whom I quoted above — took that quotation at the top of the article and turned it upside down. She wanted to be ready and waiting. While the quotation talks about waiting until you are ready. I think there’s a big difference. (allowing for the fact that I’m not yet good at it myself)
The question begs to be asked: “Where do you put your waiting?” Before you have prepared yourself for what is to come, or after? I think there is a fundamental difference in the way people live their lives. Some people wait for things to happen to them. Others prepare for what’s to follow and are eager to get into it!
This isn’t about formal education — at least not strictly. I think it’s applies to all of life. From learning to tie your shoes to facing the inevitability of your own death; we can let things happen to us, or we can prepare for what’s going to happen and tackle the event whenever it comes along — to be “ready and waiting.”
I realize that part of the difference is a matter of confidence. Some people fear what is coming — partly because they are unprepared. The process of getting ready for something — an event, a challenge, an appointment — boosts your confidence. You can see the various outcomes in your mind, and you know how to react to the circumstances. How can you not be more confident if you can anticipate the challenge and you know you are up for the task? If, instead, you are in the dark so to speak and you have no idea what to expect, then waiting to be ready becomes a scary thing indeed. You are powerless. You are a pawn.
Back in the 80’s when I had a public contact job I was quite comfortable with the workers at the bottom end of the wage scale and the managers in the middle — but I was terribly frightened of talking to business owners who might have 500 employees. Why should they pay any attention to the things I had do say. My boss at the time reminded me of the old saying that rich men put their trousers on the same way you do, one leg at a time. As silly as that saying is, for me it helped break through my personal fear. After that I walked into the owners’ office with the same confidence that I had when I talked with a mechanic. I had something they wanted and my being there was going to help them so what did I have to be afraid of. I had the power, not them.
It is a terrible thing to wait until you are ready. I’d much rather be ready and waiting. I’m still not keen on the waiting part. But I’d rather be ready and waiting than waiting to be ready.