My siblings are older than I am, and when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, I remember spending hours in an agony of anticipation, waiting for my brothers to come over.
Now we’re all waiting. Waiting for our suspended economy to restart. Waiting for our stimulus checks. Waiting for businesses to start hiring again. Waiting to see our friends and family. Waiting to go out without a mask. Waiting for our daily exercise outdoors. Waiting for better weather. Waiting for school. Waiting for the gym. Waiting to eat out. Waiting for spring to burst into bloom. Waiting for normal, any normal.
Waiting is a forgotten skill.
We aren’t even practiced at waiting for web pages to load anymore. We’re a culture that collectively fails the (discredited) marshmallow test.
What does it mean to learn to wait?
Dictionary.com defines wait as:
Verb (used without object): to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens (often followed by for, till, or until): to wait for the bus to arrive.(of things) to be available or in readiness: A letter is waiting for you.
Verb (used with object): to continue as one is in expectation of; await: to wait one’s turn at a telephone booth.to postpone or delay in expectation: Don’t wait supper for me.
Noun: an act or instance of waiting or awaiting; delay; halt: a wait at the border.a period or interval of waiting: There will be a long wait between trains.
I’m not sure I’d call this a state of repose, but I like the definition for things: to be available or in readiness. I’m available and ready for a video call. I’m available and ready to take Dog for a walk. But the third definition is really what we’re all doing – continuing as we are. Holding out.
While we hold out, we have a once in a lifetime chance to really observe the world around us. Our precious time to exercise outdoors can be filled with the wonder of nature; the fragile intricacy of a leaf, the fractal nature of branches, the pattern of a pebble. Our time inside can be filled with all those little projects we have never had time for. We can really pay close attention to the shows we watch, catching all the nuances of good TV. We can read experientially, diving deep into our imagination to co-create a world with the author.
And we have the chance to create. We can make content and memes. We can do drawings and paintings. We can knit, we can sew, we can crochet, and needlepoint, and embroider. We can cook and try new things in the kitchen. We can photograph and take video. We can write. There is no reason that this time shouldn’t be remembered as much for a flowering of creativity as for the COVID19.
Perhaps it isn’t so much about learning to wait. Instead it is about what we do while we wait.
Signing off. Take care, and take care of one another.