Waiting as Action
The young woman huddles into her coat, trying to stay warm against the slight autumn chill in the air. It's impossible, though, as her hair remains damp after an exhausting swim team practice.
"I wish I knew who was picking me up," she thinks out loud. "Why can't they ever be on time? They know when practice ends."
A few of her teammates tumble out of the locker room laughing as they jump into the waiting vehicle of one of the mom's.
"I'm going to close my eyes and count to 50, that will make them get here."
Eyes squeezed shut. "47 . . . 48 . . . 49 . . . 50." She opens her eyes and there's no sign of either her mother's little brown chevy or her father's gray oldsmobile.
"Urgh! Okay, this time I'll count until 100."
This ritual of magical thinking repeats and repeats until finally, success! A car appears.
"I knew that would work," she thinks as she gathers her belongings to get into the car.
Waiting challenges everyone.
The young child waiting for their birthday. The teenage girl waiting for a ride, or for her first love. The college student waiting to graduate so their life can "really begin." The adult waiting to find out if she got the job, or at least the next interview. Waiting to find out how she can pay her next bills. The writer waiting for her editors notes so she can begin to make her manuscript shine. The dreamer waiting to see if she can actually fund her dreams, or should find another path.
Waiting often makes us feel powerless. For time never stops or speeds up for anyone. Tick tock tick tock, the clock slowly moves forward and we can do nothing to change it.
And yet, waiting changes time. When we wait, time sometimes seems to slow down.
I say no one can control time, and yet, that's a lie. Time has become a weapon of control in the hands of greedy bureaucrats who say you might get your money, but it takes time. Or a broken capitalist system that says the only time that matters is when you are working and producing for us. Personal time has no meaning. Or dishonest politicians who force people to wait in long lines in order to vote, hoping that the wait will be too much and the facist politicians will win by default.
Time seems to speed up when it comes to waiting for terrible things. We wait with bated breath for the next announcement of brutality, violence, death. We cannot breathe because there is no waiting for the next announcement. Time speeds up as there is no pause.
Yet, when the waiting is about positive change, it seems sometimes like time simply stops. We wait for new laws. We wait for people to recognize the humanity of one another. We wait for justice to be served.
As we wait, we sometimes lose hope. Thus the weapon of waiting has achieved its goal.
What would happen if we chose to see waiting s something else? If we all incorporated the magical thinking of that young woman. "We will close our eyes and count t0 100 . . . and voila change will happen."
Or, what if we chose waiting as an action?
As we wait we can choose:
- to lie fallow and open to new possibilities
- to get angry, and make plans for change
- to start a new project even if the one we are waiting on seems like it may fail
- to connect with friends, family, lovers, strangers and listen to their stories.
- to build, one dream at a time, the world we want to see
- or simply to rest, and recognize the value of simply being.
But today, I am making the choose to wait as an active verb.
I'm going to close my eyes, and count to 1 million. When I open them again, I'll take my next steps..