Instructions for the Meantime

Waiting: vi. thinking about what is expected to happen; projecting one’s focus (and self, in a sense) into the future; an idle use of imagination that often leads to the draining experience of worry.

 Waiting sucks.

I have found I have lots of opportunities to practice it: waiting in the checkout line, waiting for the show to start, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in traffic, waiting for the end of the work or school day, waiting to meet a friend.

Whenever I realize I am waiting, I hear in my mind’s ear, “37 seconds well used is a lifetime.” The phrase comes from the movie “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” Here is the clip:

“We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds well used is a lifetime.” When I find myself waiting, I remind myself that I have a choice, that it is my responsibility to use my time well. I can choose to wait, or I can choose to … well, do a million other things.

I recently had some blood work done. The plan was for me to get blood taken at the lab and when the results came in, my doctor would get in touch with me. There are some things that are difficult to avoid waiting for. Waiting for the doctor to call, getting test results, is one of them. My sister gave me fantastic advice, “Don’t worry until your doctor tells you to.”

The trouble is, not worrying is a great goal, but impossible without something else to do. One evening, when my waiting had transformed to worrying, I wrote myself a list:

Instructions for the Meantime

Simplify.
Return focus to the present.
One moment at a time.
One thought, one feeling.
Be present.
Think.
Feel.
Seek to live the wisdom of the difference.
Dwell in harmony with the Sisters.*

*For those who may not recognize, the second to last line references the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The final line refers to the statement, “Joy and sorrow are sisters who live in the same house.”

 

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Learning to Walk

When crawling no longer satisfies,
she pushes, pulls, stumbles
her way to her feet
teetering on one leg
face contorted in concentration
or stretched in delight.
She falls,
then stands again.
teeters, falls. teeters, falls.

I don’t remember the difficulty
of learning to walk
the risk of destabilization
that is
taking a step,
going all in, setting weight
on a single point,
committing.

Today, I walk “like a ninja,”
quiet, balanced, with grace.
My talent does not lower the risk.
That is the illusion.
Any movement is still an opportunity
to fall,
to fail.

As I take each step,
the movement of my being
etches out a journey,
destination yet uncharted.
My stumbling sets me
on a tangential trail;
the destination I
had my sights set on
no longer fits,
is not feasible,
does not satisfy,
and I learn to walk anew.