Learning to Wait

I thought I was patient, until I became a teacher. Then I began to really learn what patience was. And when I believed I had truly learned it, I had a child…

And now, in this age of smartphones, Netflix and Google, I feel I have forgotten how to be patient, how to wait.

My new life is out there, but I can’t have it yet. The house is for sale, but no one is making an offer. The accountant is too busy to finish the company year end. Intertwined finances mean I can’t cut the ties with my husband. I phone Canada Revenue Agency with a question I need answered before I can file and the queue is 45 customers. I leave messages at self-storage businesses and they do not return my calls. Making yet another trip across the Malahat, the traffic is slow. The snow has not all melted. The line-up at the post office is long.

So I stop, and I breathe. Consciously, inhale, pause, exhale. And begin again. I turn off the cell phone, or at least put it on silent, in my bag.

And when I am stuck in traffic, I look at the sky, and wonder at the fractal complexity of the clouds. In a line, I strike up a conversation with the person ahead or behind me, and sometimes we are truly sorry when we reach the front. I choose to have my coffee in a ceramic cup instead of taking it away, and I pause and drink it, watching the people around me. When I sit in the rooms where I have spent so much of the last 18 years, I seek out the depths of joyous memories, instead of the recent bitter ones. Walking, I do not reach for the magic knowledge machine in my pocket when a question arises; sometimes not knowing is not the end of the world. When I am in the yard I have loved so much, I pull the weeds conscious of the timelessness of what I am doing: generations around the world, tending the garden.

I think of the other times I have waited: for a test result to come in, a house to sell; to receive the results of an interview or an application; for the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the school year; for an illness to pass, a child to be born, a parent to die; for a heart to heal.

The waiting is not a delay, but an integral part of the process. Without the time spent here, in this vague and uncertain place, the result would not mean as much.

So I wait for my brave travels to continue.

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