How much of human life is lost in waiting?
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The hours of waiting are the hardest hours to bear. The hours when an unknown is brewing in the horizon somewhere, when you are not in charge, and yet you expend massive time and energy worrying and wondering about all the possible outcomes.
Will they say yes or no?
Will I pass the test or not?
Will the pending event happen or will we be spared?
Will my blood tests come back normal or not?
Will he forgive me or not?
Will she call me back or not?
Will it all go my way or will it all go the other way?
Waiting for answers and closures. Waiting to find out. Waiting to know.
Knowing, I can find a way to handle. Knowing brings information and removes uncertainty. Knowing provides facts and data. Knowing makes planning easier. Knowing tells me what I can do with the options available to me. Knowing may bring pain, unhappiness, and disappointment, but it brings finality along with it. Knowing brings clarity and choice, and the power of choice is enormous when you fully understand the situation.
You can choose to take the job or to walk away.
You can choose to be a follower or a leader.
You can choose to fight it or to accept it.
You can choose to grieve your loss or to get over it.
You can choose security and stability or a risk and starting over.
You can choose to always second-guess or to never look back.
You can only choose your course of action after knowing the outcome. Until then, the waiting hours keep you company, and the company is far from warm and inviting. Waiting finds a way to slow down the hands of time; it knows how to stretch the minutes and to weigh down the hours. You try to focus on work and carry on with your routines and the thought of the unknown takes over at whim, zapping your forward momentum, and nudging you to run the possible outcomes over and over in your mind. Do you let hope float as you ponder a good outcome, or do you imagine the worst coming to fruition?
What do you do when you wait? How do you pass the hours?
When I wait, I pace the floors, I stare out the window, I take an unusually great interest in my neighbors’ habits. I play with my hair far too much and browse the web far too aimlessly. It is this preoccupied state of mind that robs me of my normal routine. Everything takes longer to finish because my mind is hardly focused. How long do you think it took me to write this blog post?
In extremes, waiting for the outcome of something preoccupies me to the point of impacting my exercise regimen and my desire to listen to music or to make plans. Anxiety and nervousness rule above all other emotions and I feel useless until the outcome is clear.
This is where, in an otherwise standard blog post, I would give advice on how to tame the waiting beast, how to overcome the nervousness and take back control of your hours and your actions, and how to not allow the circumstances to control you. Except I do yet know how to do that. Waiting still wins the game and I am at its mercy until I know the answers.
I could tell you to focus on the task at hand, to set aside your worries and even do a thing or two to get in a good mood, but I can hardly follow the advice during those long hours of waiting. I can urge you to meditate, a remedy that would work if you could do it and yet I can hardly sit still for more than 5 minutes! I could tell you to remember that worry is about as useful in solving the situation as chewing bubblegum when solving an algebra problem, and yet I still worry as I wait. I could especially tell you that no matter what the outcome, you will prevail and yet, even this awareness does little to ease the mind during the minutes and hours spent waiting.
“I am ready any time. Do not keep me waiting.”
~ John Mason Brown
So instead, I will say only that waiting is hard, waiting takes patience, and waiting tests us through and through. Waiting peels the layers and exposes the inner core. Waiting can call upon your powers from within. You may like what you see or decide to change for the better. Waiting has its own agenda and there is no way I am making friends with it. But it is a part of life and I will strive to meet it on higher ground in each encounter.
Do you have a secret to deal with the hours spent waiting?