Once when traveling from Beijing to Los Angeles, our flight was delayed for 8 hours because of a Siberian Volcano. That was the excuse we were given, at least. I think they just went with the most exotic explanation they could think of. Anyway, the flight was about half Americans and half Chinese. The next 8 hours were full of Chinese people reading the paper, playing cards, resting. The Americans, not so much. We watched as irate Westerners paraded around in a huff demanding answers and complaining about the too small bottles of water we received. How could they treat us like this?! We demand to know what is going on.
In all fairness, we did only get an 8 oz "fun size" bottle of water for an 8 hour delay. Interestingly though, the Chinese weren't complaining. And they require the same amount of water as Americans. I'm a nurse so I know that kind of stuff...
How can we blame ourselves for not enjoying the wait? Everything in our culture reminds us that we shouldn't wait. We needn't wait. The first 35 seconds on a phone call with your bank and they are telling you they are SO SORRY you had to wait. They realize you are a valued customer. Important people such as yourself should never have to wait.
I'm not saying Chinese are "good" and Americans are "bad."
I'm not saying I enjoy waiting.
And I am, most assuredly, not saying I am good at it.
The experience simply reminded me that there are different ways to wait and that how we wait says a lot about us.
If we're the center of our universe everyone needs to get busy on our behalf. Like NOW. We expect them to pull strings to get us whatever we want "need." And faster. If we realize we are not royalty, however, we aren't as prone to wadded up panties about the small stuff.
We are in a place of waiting as a family. Annnd I don't know what to do with myself.
Do I go on a walk?
Read a book?
Go pick up the pesto I keep forgetting at Costco?
Nope. No thank you. Huh-uh. I don't feel like doing any of that. All I want to do is be DONE waiting.
At times what we're waiting on is within our control. I am involved in some of this presently. I have been seriously exercising for two weeks now. That is about one and a half weeks longer than usual so it's basically cause for a cheesecake party pedicure. The results have been teeny but even teeny results are results. Still waiting on the noticeable changes but I'm going to keep lunging and crunching in the mean time. That $200 is still up for grabs people.
Other times, what we're waiting for is out of our control. Maybe it's a baby or a job. Maybe you're waiting on that "special someone" who has taken about 10 years too long to arrive by your calculations. Moving on with the current day when you're sick into your marrow of the lack of progress is hard.
I had the opportunity to hear Jeff Goins speak at the Declare Conference about his new book, The In-Between. I read it and I loved it. He explores the concept of waiting. He says we assume the best parts of our lives are happening in big moments somewhere in the future but that the life between the big moments is what is most valuable. How we wait matters.
His conclusion: it is in the waiting that we become who we are. Well if you put it that way, waiting seems pretty darn important.
I try to model waiting well for the kids. One practical way I've found to remind all of us that waiting is not lethal is to let a person with less in their cart cut in line at the grocery store. We have not died yet doing this and we have the opportunity to practice waiting with a happy heart.
The other way to get better at waiting is to go to Costco at any time on any day of the year. We always seem to spend a ton of time waiting there. Buuuut that's where we get all the pesto and pretzel rolls so it's clearly worth it.
So practically, here are some questions for you. Make your voice heard in the comments!
What do you struggle to wait for? What tips do you use to practice waiting well?