As I write this column this morning, I am waiting. I spent a good part of the last hour WAITING in a huge traffic backup caused by an accident. I spent time yesterday WAITING for a client who failed to keep her appointment. I spent time last night WAITING for the tornado-warning all-clear so that I could feel safe about going to bed. Today, November 6, 2018, I am spending time in WAITING for the outcomes of this milestone midterm election, outcomes that will determine a significant path for the United States.
I am struck as I think about these experiences by the phrase “spending time”. On an existential level each second of our lives moves us closer to the inevitable end of living. When we reach that moment, if we are given the opportunity, how will we look back at the time we have spent on this earth? How will we regard the choices we made? Will we celebrate or will we have regrets?
We all spend time in lines or in situations that are not of our own making. We try to minimize the time spent in slow grocery lines, in traffic, in retail stores. We try to rush things up, sometimes to little effect. I often experience another driver zooming by me in a rush to get ahead, only to find that same driver next to or behind me as the traffic sorts itself out. Little is gained, and much is lost (gas usage increases, and emotional energy is expended). Allowing one’s self to respond with frustration or even rage to these situations serves little purpose. If you look back at your life and find that you spent time focusing on frustration at situations over which you had no control, you may be in for a lot of regret.
We also spend time in situations in which we do have some possible impact. While I am waiting with some significant degree of angst for this Election Day to end and for the results to be counted, I also know that I did everything that I could do to affect the outcome. I voted. I wrote letters to potential voters. I contributed dollars to the candidates and party of my choice. I talked to friends about the importance of involvement. I encouraged others to take a stand. While I will be tremendously disappointed and concerned if my party of choice does not make strides, I will know that I did what I could do. I may not celebrate, but I will not have personal regrets as to my participation. I did not WAIT to get involved.
We wait for something to happen, for an event to take place, for a change to occur. The experience of waiting is often difficult. We humans are impatient creatures, for the most part, and we want things to happen on our time schedule. The eternal cry of the young traveler – “Are we there yet?” – resonates through the lives of human creatures. We are always wanting to be “there”. We want to skip over the waiting and get somewhere.
We can wait with patience, or we can wait with anxiety. We can fill the time of waiting with fretting about how we are not “yet there”, or we can focus on what is happening in this time of waiting. Perhaps in the midst of the traffic jam there is glimpse of a sunrise that would not have been seen had I not been sitting still. Perhaps time to complete a project became available through the gift of an unexpected hour. Perhaps waiting for the all-clear gave me time to read a few chapters of that book I want to finish.
Time is a gift, not a certainty. Use it wisely.
About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please…Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!