Advice for Waiting

Daily Prompt Waiting Room “Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want? <== another “meh” prompt. Sigh…

The ability to wait is commensurate with the ability to live with the unknown. In Spanish the verb for “wait” and the word for “hope” are one and the same. That says everything.

There are many waiting rooms in literature. For Sarte, a waiting room was Hell (No Exit). For Samuel Beckett, waiting is the subject of an entire play Waiting for Godot. My favorite waiting room in literature is in C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. It’s a literary image to which most of us can relate. I spent most of the months of September and October waiting and it was no fun at all. I had decided to sell my house in California so I had to WAIT for someone who wanted to buy it. Once I found my house in Colorado I had to WAIT for the intricate machinations of a real estate deal to grind their way to my having a place to live. There was nothing I could do to bring the future closer or learn its secrets. I had to wait. Did the good things “come” to me because I waited? That’s a non sequitur. I think what this hackneyed cliché is saying is that letting things come in their own time is often wiser than pushing toward an outcome.

I have known many people who are “assertive.” The MOST assertive of them consider me passive. I think that many times assertiveness is simply the inability to wait. It’s deciding how things will be and making them that way (whether they ARE that way or not). My stragedy is usually to let nature take its course, to see how things go before acting. I like to collect all the information I can and to know the facts before I “do” anything. I want to know the objective limitations I will be facing. I can make decisions about things, but I seldom make them with absolute certainty. Many times they are theories waiting to be tested. Over the years I’ve learned that waiting is often wisdom. My approach is to find what I want — often visualizing it as something in the distance, like the tree you might race your little brother to — and heading toward it. I can never know what obstacles lie between me and that “tree” but I know by now that waiting is probably going to be part of the journey. Waiting can give us information, too…

A few suggestions for waiting:

If it’s a bus you’re waiting for, you just have to wait until it gets there. If you miss it, there will be another one — if you wait. The same rule applies — more or less — to all forms of public transportation.

If you’re a kid waiting for Santa, the wait is interminable and only useful if you’ve been good during the year. The waiting is good because it gives you something to which you can compare other waits later in your life. You will be able to use it as an analogy, “Damn, this is like waiting for Santa.” I’ve heard this analogy many times from pregnant women, but having no direct experience, I can’t tell you how valid it is.

If you’re waiting for medical test results for yourself or a loved one, depending on the test, the wait can be excruciating or nothing much. Still, all you can do is wait, hope for the best, pray if that’s your thing, and carry on with your life.

If you’re waiting for your significant other to come home, and you suspect him/her of cheating, it would be advisable for you to go do something else, such as find an apartment of your own. Whether he/she is cheating or not, there’s no trust in your relationship any more, so it is over.

If you’re waiting for a war to end, again, the wait is interminable, and you can’t do anything to hasten the conclusion. This is awful. Stay busy, pray if you believe in that, and be kind to others because they’re probably in the same hell.

If you’re waiting for the end of the work day, reassess the way you feel about your job, unless you’re doing something really great that evening.

If you’re waiting for love, well, my mom said that was like waiting for buses.

If you’re waiting for a sign, there are signs on buses, or you can make one up — which is what most people do.

17 thoughts on “Advice for Waiting

  1. Waiting is definitely NOT my strong suite. I’m with Beckett on this one. Waiting often IS hell.

    But not all waiting is created equal. Waiting for the flowers to bloom or a painting to dry is not like waiting for your name to be called at the motor vehicle bureau. One is anticipating the fullness of creation … the other is outlasting the bureaucracy.

    • Me too. Part of it is that I know how little effect I am likely to have on the outcome of things, and I also know now that I don’t know everything. This makes me a lot more patient — I think that boils down to benign indifference. But I got pretty anxious about the house deal from time to time. That was difficult.

  2. I, too find benefit in waiting, thinking, watching, and letting situations shift and become detailed before I know what I think or want to do. Full disclosure: this tendency of mine can drive my husband crazy when he’s in full “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” mode.

    • I know what you mean. One of my good friends is one of those “make it happen!” types. Two years ago when I had begun to contemplate moving to Colorado, she kept saying, “Don’t you understand? Housing prices are rising!” and I kept thinking, “Don’t you understand? If I quit working now I’ll have almost NO income and houses aren’t selling in California.” Those were facts that I couldn’t alter. She still thinks I missed out and should have taken her advice.

  3. Patience is something I’ve learned as I’ve grown older. I love the wisdom in your post, especially your ending with the Spanish word for hope with its double meaning.

    • The template I use — Motif — offers an option to randomize a bunch of photos for the header. I like that so I chose it. And, yeah, I took the photo of the sunflowers in front of the mountain — that mountain is Pikes Peak and that was this past August when I was in Colorado Springs. We’ve had snow already, last night and the night before.

  4. This is beautiful, and now my mind is going all around, thinking about the times when I’ve made things happen. But did I really? No matter how much I did to make something happen, would it have happened if it wasn’t my destiny or for my highest good? Those few things that I made happen ended up not being so great, so did they happen for the life lessons in them? I agree with you that the wait-and-see-and-gather-information approach is better, but there’s a fine line between that and letting life just sweep you along instead of being proactive, which is what I’ve also done, probably most of the time. Waiting for answers to all of life’s questions . . .

  5. I have always been impatient and thought I was growing more patient as I’m growing older, but, I just remembered my reaction to that doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago when I walked out after waiting over an hour and a half and still hadn’t even had my eyes dilated.

    Well, that’s not a good example, I think anyone would have been upset, especially when the stupid clerk avoided me THREE times and RAN down the hall away from me so she could chit chat with other office clerks. Yikes! Sorry, I digressed. 😉

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