Several years ago while I was in an usual stage of romanticizing my childhood, I wrote a song called, “Are We There Yet?” It is a sweet, folksy look at patience and the role of music to sustain us. The first verse and chorus go,
With pillows and blankets and wint-o-green sparks; 4 kids fighting over who knows what
We’d be no more than 15 minutes down a 2 hour ride when a voice would come from the back seat….
Are we there yet? We’ve been on this road forever – I don’t know how much longer I can hold it;
Are we there yet, the winding of these roads is getting me down.
Mom would start singing, “Oh in the moonlight” and dad would join in with his “boom boom boom”
And time would pass a little easier singing old time tunes.”
Sometimes it seems that the bulk of our lives takes place in a some sort of waiting. Waiting for a test result to come, waiting for that cute guy to text, waiting for the next pay check, waiting to be patched through to some computer expert across the Atlantic who we will hopefully be able to understand.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Alas” — my addition “how much of human life is lost in waiting.” I hope it is not true that the waiting room is a lost room, but I think it has been at times for me.
I feel that I am in a bit of a waiting period right now but I am uncertain as to why. My job is good and I love my colleagues, my family is well and mostly happy, my dog adores me and makes me laugh every day. Truly the only down sides that I can pinpoint is that I do not see friends very often and would like to be writing and performing music and doing peace work with more of my time. This doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to find myself in tears some days, feeling uneasy and in hot pursuit of chocolate.
I cannot quite figure out why I am unsatisfied, waiting for something to happen. It is like I am waiting for the sky to open up or something equally unlikely.
When I first read Emerson’s quote, I thought it was an admonition to “get off of our arses” and accomplish something. The more I sit with it, I think it may be Emerson’s way noticing the difference between a person having the waiting period and the waiting period having the person. Perhaps Emerson is saying that life is “lost” in the waiting because that is how it feels, not necessarily that waiting is a waste of time.
I have a friend who is going through cancer treatments. She just completed her chemo and must wait 4 more weeks before they attempt to remove a very large mass from her right breast. I saw her yesterday and she looked awful. It was so sad. She took a leave from her job to get treatment and wait for her surgery. She has zero money and oh – the bills. Worse yet, she watched her mother die from the same illness not many years ago.
But she has been so cheerful through the whole thing – so patient – wearing her favorite blue hat -read hair replacement – that brings out the color in her now red-rimmed blue eyes.
And then there is my friend who has more integrity than two of me put together and she was recently asked to leave her job. Mostly, it all seems unnecessary and really bad form. She is entering an unwelcomed waiting period too.
I wonder how I’ll feel if I ever get “there.” You know, on the other side of waiting. I have a feeling somehow that the waiting room is our life; that the rest of it is just filler.