No matter how far ahead or meticulously we plan ahead we’ll find ourselves waiting in line somewhere, and the hardest part is that we really, really want to experience what it is we’re waiting for. Apart from the unreasonable length of time we have to wait, the lack of a way to comfortably wait, and the lack of a restroom, we are subjected to other people while we’re waiting and, even more irritating, their children. Ours, of course, are perfectly behaved and don’t whine, shout, range around, or climb on things, including people they don’t know. In these situations we tend to stay divided into our own small groups and to become annoyed at any small interruption. It would be interesting to see what happened if we were to turn and say something friendly to that real person standing next to us. We might get along and find interesting things about them. We might even divulge a little something about ourselves and be found interesting. Someone might overhear and join the conversation. Having gained an acquaintance and explored in another’s garden for a bit, we might be able to tolerate (or ignore) their children better. And won’t the waiting time have gone by faster?
When we wait for people to arrive, leave, maybe come back to us we’re the ones waiting for them. When we wait for a package to be delivered, for the results to arrive, for the next chance to do something we are waiting for opportunities to drop into our lap. We spend a lot of time waiting for what’s coming round the bend next and a lot of us have gotten very good at it, and consequently good at sniffing out chances at many and varied challenging and pleasing things to add to our lives. So waiting, though sometimes tedious, is not always a bad thing. Most of us think of ourselves as the one who waits, but, given the nature of the activity/pastime, there must be more than a few people waiting for us a lot of the time. When we do think of those waiting for us we generally either brush it off and show up late or not at all, or we worry and worry and put ourselves in the path of danger trying to hurry. If we as waiter stopped to think of we as waitee, we might not hurry or worry quite so much; not allow ourselves to fall into a mood too negative to be worthwhile when you arrive or your late one arrives. Besides, it’s easier just to let someone know you’re running late, isn’t it?
Hoping is a very difficult state – at times one doesn’t even know what one is hoping for, it is a vague longing to change the circumstances one is facing or is in the middle of at a specific time. At other times hoping is specific and one can pinpoint exactly what the nature of completion may be. In either case, and all the variations between, one is not in control of the outcome; this can be liberating but it can also be a mental torture that consumes us and does not allow for other parts of our lives to continue on an even keel. If we are very hungry, or we or a loved one has a medical emergency, or we don’t yet know the results of a challenge or a test we may not be able to focus our attention on anything but what might or might not happen. In these circumstances the best we can do is to try to distract ourselves, though in severe cases this is almost impossible to do. But we must try or we may find that when what we hope for is not precisely what we get we may fall into a depression that includes lack of all hope, lack of interest in a future, or lack of determination to continue to pursue a goal. Distractions can include many things and even the act of searching for a distraction can take our minds from our sense of endless hoping. Isn’t focusing on hope exclusively somewhat futile?
None of us like to wait; waiting is one of the hardest things we have to do. There is no getting out of it; at some point or other we must wait for someone who is late to pick us up, wait in a line for anything, or wait for an answer or some news, so wait we do, and in many different ways. The waiting we do can be beneficial to us and offer us some opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have: we could sleep and catch up on some much-needed rest; we could read fiction or poetry and refresh ourselves that way; we could study ourselves or for classes we are taking and take care of our assignments; we could watch other people and speculate on their lives. These are all things that are positive in nature that we can do while waiting for something, but there are things most of do which really don’t affect the outcome and serve only to make us angry or frustrated such as jittering restlessly, constantly looking at the clock, make futile phone calls, or get angry at someone who also has no control over the situation. These are in no way refreshing or relaxing ways to pass the time until whatever you’re waiting for comes to pass, they actually only waste more time and are helpful to no one. When one approaches a situation where it is likely there will be some wait time it makes sense to come prepared for it. What do you do to pass the time while you’re waiting?