Life lately feels a lot about waiting. I’m waiting for emails and test results and vet appointments and phone calls and letters — big, life-changing things and small, day-changing things. They’re all out of my control, and I’m being reminded once again that patience is not one of my virtues. Patience is all about letting go, relinquishing control — something that I have never once admitted to being good at.
I’ve noticed that there are two basic ways that I play the waiting game.
I can wait this way:
Checking email to see if the one I’m waiting for has arrived since I checked 12 seconds ago
Looking in my voicemail box to see if that important call came in and I just didn’t hear the phone ring
Asking Google what the chances are of my getting the response I’m hoping for
Asking Google the same question in different words
Asking Google again to see if the answer has changed
Creating a bunch of explanations for why the email hasn’t arrived, the phone call hasn’t come
Planning out how I will respond to results that are what I hope they’ll be and results that aren’t
Or I can wait this way:
Reading a good book
Going out to dinner with friends
Walking my dog
Baking something delicious
Watching a good movie
Taking a nap
Sewing a new project
In short, I can either wait while I wait or I can live while I wait.
I’ll be honest here and say that my tendency is to wait while I wait — anxiously, obsessively worrying over whether things will turn out as I hope, whether the phone call I ultimately get will be the one I want, whether the outcomes of any of the myriad things I’m waiting for will fill me with joy or disappointment.
Of course, I know that the worrying and the obsessing will not change the outcome, that all those machinations are just a way to try to convince myself that I have some control over things that I, in actuality, have no control over.
So I’m trying to talk to myself about letting that go. I’m scheduling projects and get-togethers. I’m putting down my smartphone and picking up a book. I’m taking a long walk instead of checking my email again.
I’m not perfect — I still get caught up in the waiting game. But when I’m able to, when I can see what’s going on, I turn my attention elsewhere.
After all, the answers will come eventually. I might as well take a nap until they do.