Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash
By Stella Orange
When I was a kid, we had a Commodore 64 computer. It had all the classic accoutrements of eighties computing: joystick, floppy disk, pixelated graphics. I remember having to code the formatting for my high school English papers. But the biggest thing about those early years was that, after you inserted a floppy disk with the program you wanted to play into the disk drive, you had to wait for the program to load. Sometimes it was quick. And other times it could take several minutes.
In the checkout line at the grocery store, sometimes there are several people in front of me, their carts brimming with groceries.
At the airport, sometimes I have to run to catch my next flight, and other times I find myself with hours to wait.
Waiting is a funny business. It’s a gap between where you want to go and where you are now. And typically, there is nothing we can do to speed it up. It’s out of our control. But what if waiting is actually something great?
Here are some things I have come to relish about waiting:
It slows you down. Out in the world, I often need a moment to catch my breath and process the events, interactions, and conversations I’ve had. When I have to wait, I get a chance to down-shift out of doing, into being. It usually takes me a minute, but if I’m able to switch out of “go” mode, there’s usually something useful waiting for me in the moment.
It opens the door for being present. Too often, when I’m on a mission, I’m not as receptive to serendipity that may not neatly fit my predetermined agenda. When I have to wait at the doctor’s office or for someone to call me back, it gives me a chance to notice, contemplate, and receive.
People-watching! When I’m waiting, I get to see a dad being sweet with his kid, or the old couple that’s dressed to the nines holding hands. I look at people’s shoes. I notice people’s haircuts. I eavesdrop on conversations. This is better than cable!
It gives you the chance to add magic. In the space between wanting something to happen and it actually happening, there is potency. Expectancy. Possibility. Even pleasure. Instead of trying to hurry things up, I try to practice relishing the time it takes for things to happen. I tell myself a little story about why the waiting is perfect. This makes the anticipation part of the process, and sprinkles a little good juju on it.
Things take time to happen. To grow. To change. To emerge. Instead of trying to hurry that process up, or distract ourselves, what if we savored the particular joys of waiting?
Stella Orange is a copywriter and co-founder of Las Peregrinas, a business advising and marketing service company. Find out more about her work at www.lasperegrinas.org