Life, it seems, has been tearing ahead of me like a snow-obsessed beagle mix with cabin fever who's just been offered his first walk in weeks (this is a very specific simile. Snacks has been very excited about all the snow). It has been hard to keep up.
But I don't really want to talk about all that. The world will continue turning and churning whether I whine about it. And anyway, I'm the one who ends up choosing the pace at which I'm living.
For the last couple of weeks I've been wanting (and waiting) to write about waiting.
Last year I spent a lot of time waiting to feel less weight. Waiting to feel happy and creative and productive. Depression, it seems, is a lot about waiting – even if while you're in it, you don't realize you're waiting. You just feel like you're sinking. And you don't even really care if you get pulled out of the bog. That self-preservation part seems muted and sluggish.
Since regaining my footing and returning to a more normal rhythm, I've come to realize that all that waiting was necessary. My brain had been demanding stillness. And when I resisted, it decided to force it on me.
I think waiting is often framed as a negative activity. We view it as the opposite of progress and productivity. Something that's foisted on us, unwanted and unwelcome. But maybe it doesn't have to be that way.
In fact, maybe it shouldn't be that way at all.
I recently picked up a copy of "Waiting" by Kevin Henke for a friend who's due to have her first baby in March. It's a children's book about a group of toys who spend their days on a window ledge waiting for things to happen. Waiting for the moon or the wind or the rain. And while they wait they watch the beautiful world outside the window. The illustrations are soft, sweet and lovely. And the sentiment is that waiting doesn't have to be this exasperating, temper-raising activity. It can be calm and sweet – and often necessary.
As a mother coming out of the holiday season I related to the story. And as a mother who's always anxious for certain phases of childhood to be over (do we really need to splash every time we get out of the bath tub? Every time?! And at what point do they start wiping themselves? And speaking of the potty, will I ever get to poop alone again?) But in between all these frustrating things are these beautiful moments of enduring sweetness that disappear before we even have a chance to acknowledge how wonderful they are. That's the bittersweet pill of motherhood. You spend so much time waiting for the sleep and the shower and the five minutes of peace, you can easily miss the pure joy of childhood.
Humans of New York recently had a post that touched on this exact thing (read the whole post here):
Don't treat your life as a waiting room. I mean, it's actually a waiting room for death I suppose. But then we should treat it like one of the most magical waiting rooms we experience. Let's not look at it like the line at the DMV. Or, if you are stuck in DMV mode, at least acknowledge all the others stuck there with you. Get their story. It's better when we share.
A couple weeks ago during my Sunday morning drive up to Blue Hound, I was listening to "On Being" on NPR. The guest was author and teacher Stephen Batchelor, who's written "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist," "The Faith to Doubt" and "Buddhism Without Beliefs."
This portion of the interview stuck with me:
P.S. I'm kind of obsessed with the the song I included above, which I first heard while watching season two of "Transparent" (if you're not watching "Transparent" you should be watching "Transparent.") I love how meditative the song is. It calls for us to wait.