In a world where information is at our fingertips, where the delay of dial up internet seems tortuous, where reactions are quickly put out for the world to see…I’m wondering what has been lost from the lack of waiting. There are many things that have been gained from instant information, but with each gain, there may be some loss. The work of waiting is a work that develops with time and character is developed in the wait.
I’m not a sociologist (although I’m related to one) but I find shifts in society interesting. I wonder how instantaneous living has impacted our thoughts, culture, lifestyle…society. I’m not a theologian (although I’m related to one whose life & educational pursuits qualify him to be one) but I’m wondering about the spiritual impact of our instant access to information. I’m not someone typically given to road rage (but am related to some who might be have this characteristic) but am seeing an increase in impatience on the road. We aren’t happy with waiting. Complaints are expelled generously and fiercely, if one even thinks they have waited a moment longer than “necessary.” The world in my immediate view is filled with instant information, instant payments, instant access to so much and yet,my introverted, contemplating mind wonders what we are missing as a result.
Even with the instant nature of life, much of life is spent waiting. A MIT professor estimated that two years of our life is spent waiting in line. For amusement park junkies, I would imagine that number goes up! Waiting is still a part of life.
We wait for:
- stop lights to turn green
- our number to be called at the DMV (among many places)
- messages to be returned
- air traffic control to say our plane can take off or land
- trains/buses to arrive or depart
- due dates
The list is long. It is much longer than I shared, but I think the idea has been presented.
Sometimes we must:
- wait things out
- wait our turn
- wait a sec
- be on a waiting list
Having a wait and see attitude is a challenge. The challenge is greater for some, more than for others.
Instant passes at the amusement parks, same-day delivery, call ahead ordering, …are these so bad? I cannot say if they are or not, but I think they are a byproduct of our instantaneous society. They certainly come with a literal expense. People are willing to spend more money for these services…to make life easier, to make better use of our time, to avoid waiting.
In weighing the cost/reward do we, do I, consider what is gained in the work of waiting? Again, I have no educational background to support these thoughts and theories. I have nearly 54 years of life and countless hours spent pondering and waiting.
I know I am not alone in noticing that decreased interaction is a result of instantaneous living. I notice, in many situations, people turn to their phones to get answers rather than take the opportunity to see if those in their immediate range might have something to offer on the subject. I’m guilty as well. Do you know the name of that song? Look it up. Who was in that movie? Look it up. How do you get to xyz? Look it up. Don’t wait, don’t interact, don’t ask, don’t listen. Look it up. Don’t get me wrong, my thoughts are not cut and dried. I use map apps and more. I like the access to information at my fingertips, but I’m measuring what I’m losing because I’m in such a hurry. I’m measuring what is to be gained by waiting.
I think back to some of the first words I heard after receiving a tough diagnosis. I was encouraged to “stick with what I know.” The speaker of these wise words was urging me to not jump ahead and worry, not jump ahead to unknowns, not jump ahead to things that required a wait. Along with the diagnosis came periods of waiting. Numerous health care professionals had told me that the waiting would be hard, and they were right. But in trusting that the wait was necessary, I could settle in and trust that what I was to do, was what I could do. Wait.
In the work of waiting, for that period, I reflected, I prayed, I cried & I laughed. I connected and reconnected with people and I rested. I did not rush for instant answers. I listened.
Again, I know that this scenario does not grant a direct correlation to every “wait it out” or “wait for the other shoe to drop” experience.
Waiting does not need to be passive. Sometimes waiting is a means to prepare. I have found that I may not know what I am preparing for by waiting. Maybe, I’ll never know the purpose of certain times of waiting. Does not knowing negate the result or the purpose? I don’t think so. I don’t think everything revolves around me, my “purpose” or how waiting impacts my life. Maybe the brief moments of waiting have saved me from something else. Maybe they will open conversations that are meant for someone else’s benefit more than my own. Maybe they are just moments of waiting.
The work of waiting. Perhaps it includes forfeiting my schedule. Perhaps it includes forfeiting my agenda (which is not the same as my schedule.) Perhaps it includes rest. Perhaps its includes trust. Perhaps it includes listening (you know, the kind that doesn’t require response.) Perhaps it includes restoration.
I first began writing this post weeks ago, maybe even months ago. (And more than ever, I wonder if this is what anyone else should read or just for me.) I’m no where close to where I want to be in these thoughts and in my words. I think more waiting is involved. As I wait for clarity, (or for more questions) there will be activity that involves rest, listening, meditation and …more. I will wait to see what else is involved.