The Unexpected Joy of Waiting
It seems you can’t go anywhere and not see people staring at something in their hands. As vital as my device is to me, I still long for a time long gone when sitting and waiting meant something so very different than it does now.
It is probably a fair remark that none of us particularly like to wait. We’ve all done it and after the first few minutes, we feel lost, forgotten, a million unhappy feelings. It’s also probably why we are so excited to see the person we have been waiting for. Prior to smart devices, we would watch the world go by. We would notice people coming and going in front of us. We would look at the fashion show before us, wondering how that would look on us or noticing everyone had short hair or beards or something we hadn’t taken in before.
We might notice the ballet of every work environment. Every restaurant has a million moving parts that glide about one another without difficulty. That’s why a dropped plate catches our attention so. It is out of the norm. It goes against the grain. Yet think how many plates, cups and bowls come from the kitchen to tables and back without incident.
I discovered the joy of active waiting while waiting for the bus to get home from high school. To give you a clue of the wait, often I would give up and walk the few miles home. But there were days I was tired and so I would wait. I was a teenager, impressionable and curious. I am thankful for all of that. Waiting meant I had two choices – read for schoolwork or watch the world. You can see my choice.
I watched my ‘street theatre.’ I saw loving relationships and something to aspire to. I saw rude people and wanted to not be like them. I saw beautiful and clunky cars and wondered what kind of car I might drive or own as I got older. I saw women dressed to the heights of fashion and wondered if I could ever be that chic…. Or if I wanted to be that chic. I heard laughter in the air, excitement when people met. I saw sadness on faces, resignation to life. I saw life in its fullness before me.
I don’t know if I realized it at the time, but I was choosing who I wanted to be at a time that was all about me and my growth. I looked at life and said yes or no to the things that were who I want to be. I was allowed to be free from the media demand of conformity and was free to select what was me.
My downtime allowed me to choose who I wanted to be as I grew up.
Why bring it up now? Most of us are past teenage years.
Because at any time we can choose to look at our lives and ask who it is we are and who we would like to be.
I’m not saying diet to the bone or change your hairstyle or go from glasses to contacts. Although all of those are nice ways to take care of yourself if you are considering them.
I am saying if the spark in your life has dimmed, what catches your eye when you quietly watch your own street theatre. Notice what brings out longings when you see magazines or books or movies or television shows. Notice when a song or phrase in it brings you to an emotional moment. Your own self is politely saying it might be time to look at what is going on with your life. Your own self might politely be saying all is ok, but it is ok to have more. Your own self might be politely saying it is time to review all in your life and how it serves you.
You can practice the unexpected joy of waiting anywhere. It makes the wait so much more fun when we aren’t annoyed but on our own field trip of life. See what surprises you. Makes you laugh. Catches your breath. And appreciate the fullness of your emotional life.