Waiting, Worrying, Savoring
As I looked out my living room window this morning, my first reaction was disappointment and dismay. Another morning, another snowy landscape, another hour of clearing snow from the driveway and sidewalk. It’s February, I’m in the Great Lakes region of the USA, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
I looked at the calendar – not a good thing to do around here in February – and I realized that it’s 43 days until the vernal equinox – the supposed first day of spring. It may be springlike in some places on that day, but there’s a really good chance it won’t seem like spring around here. March 21st is normally, wet, cold, windy and cloudy; there’s not usually much spring in the air around here.
I look at things that way and then, when I really think about it, we spend most of our lives waiting for something. And is the waiting really all that bad?
I can remember being a kid and waiting for Christmas. Weeks seemed like months, days seemed like weeks – it seemed like it took forever for Christmas to come. It came and went and before I knew it, I was sitting around the house the day after Christmas bored and wanting to do something with my friends.
Now, I look back and all that waiting seems inconsequential – and like it never even happened. Those days of Christmas waiting were decades ago. All those months, all those weeks, all those days of waiting all seem like they passed far too quickly now.
Isn’t it funny? Is funny even the right word? Life is strange sometimes. Sometimes it seems so unfair.
Seems we do a whole lot of waiting in our lives. We wait to get paid (unless we are very wealthy and then I’m sure those who are rich have something to wait for). We wait to get test results back from the tests the doctor ordered. We wait for a movie to come or a favorite show to come on… but then the older we get the shorter the waiting gets, until we all never wait for anything again.
I though long and hard about waiting here’s what I think. I think waiting makes whatever you’re waiting for much better or much worse than it really ever could be. Someone once said (and I’m too lazy to look up who it was) that (and I paraphrase) “a coward dies a thousand deaths; a hero dies but one”. I believe in that philosophy.
If you’ve ever dreaded something – like surgery or a painful exam or a funeral or something you really did not want to have to face – and you let it chew at you day after day, then you’re like the coward who died a thousand deaths, aren’t you? I’ve done that, we’ve all done it. And what good did it all that worrying do? Not one bit. When I worry and fret over some upcoming even, then I’m the coward dying a thousand deaths. Whatever I’m dreading, can’t be nearly as bad as mulling it over and over and living it over and over in my mind before it happens. It is what it is, worry or not.
Don’t be the coward that dies a thousand deaths by worrying yourself sick over things you cannot control
And on the opposite side, what about the good things we look forward to? Waiting seems so hard to do, yet waiting makes it all the better. It’s like endless appetizers before a grand dinner. LIke rainy days make us appreciate sunny days more, and unbearably cold winter days make summer so welcome, waiting gives a chance to savor whatever we’re looking forward to – so that we can enjoy it even more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked forward to something – so excited waiting for it – only to be disappointed when it came. But even if I was disappointed, I had all that savoring before day actually came.
Waiting for the class bell to ring in school, made walking out of school at the end of the day even better. Savoring those final minutes before the bell set me free… some of my favorite moments of school savoring the slow hands of the clock counting down the minutes to freedom.
So do take time to savor the weeks and days and hours leading up to the things you are looking forward to – those moments you savor are gifts to your memory.
And for those things coming up that you’re dreading, don’t make them worse by worrying about them. It’s not easy not to worry, but if you remember you’ll be much better off being the hero who only has to endure the dreaded day or event once, than the cowards who worry and fret so much they end up reliving the event over and over in their minds before the event or day even happens.
One more thing. Life has a way of evening things out. The things you look forward too are often not quite as good as you imagined – but the imagining was so much fun. On the other hand, the events you dreaded probably weren’t as bad as you thought they’d be.
It’s a cold, windy, snowy, cruel February day here today. But I’m not going to worry about how much more winter I’ve got to endure – I’m going to imagine tulips and daffodils and dandelioins and the green, green grass of spring. I’m going to imagine spring and savor it, no matter what it looks like outside today.
And when spring does come, it probably won’t be anywhere near as good as I’m imagining it will be right now.
Who cares? I’m loving the savoring.