As I was sitting outside a cafe in the early May-days of this past month, I was amazed by how much you can see, when you actually are looking. I was sipping my cafe latte, basking in the early morning sun, wearing my sun glasses and just loving life. On the table next to me, there was a mother in despair, basically doing the same thing as I was, with a tiny difference. Her toddler was screaming on top of his lungs, because of what ever sweet he did or did not get. Eventually he settled down, quietly stuffing his face with a sugary pastry. The mother kept looking around, anxiously looking at her watch every few seconds. Then, her phone rang, her shoulders sank and all of a sudden, she was everything but waiting.
A young teenager, not yet a man, but not a boy anymore, starts bolting off from the end of the block, trying to catch the train that just pulled into the station. You know, he does not usually go for runs, that you can tell by the way he trips over his own feet. He barely reaches the green blinking button that opens the door, as the train pulls away. His chest is heaving, he props himself up on his legs, trying to catch his breath again. He slides his backpack from his shoulders, looking at the monitor. Next train in 45 minutes. He shakes his head, no other way to get where he has to go, so he looks around, finds an empty seat and waits for the next train.
In Norway, trying to sleep during the long days in the spring or summer is rather difficult, because the sun does not seem to disappear and by the time it eventually does disappear, it will come up again. So you force yourself to sleep while it’s nice and bright outside and you are waiting for the darkness to finally fill the night sky. You lay awake, for a long time and by the time your alarm goes off you feel like you didn’t get any shut eye all night. During the long summer days you find yourself waiting, waiting for longer nights. But right as the alarm goes off, your sleepiness wins and you tell yourself, only 10 minutes. By the time you awaken you feel refreshed and well rested, that is until you look at your cellphone, that you keep on your nightstand. Realizing, that the battery is death and that the second or third or fourth alarm did not ring. As you fondle under your bed, trying to find the charger, you have a bad feeling in your stomach. You jump out of bed, run to your computer and see that your well deserved 10 minute snooze has been a two hour nap. All your energized feelings vanished in a second.
All of that results in a chain reaction of waiting and resentment. Because you were waiting for the night to get dark, you couldn’t resist the attempted 10 minute snooze. Because of the tiredness, you couldn’t get up early enough to catch your train. Because the train left without you, you have to wait for the next one. Because the next train doesn’t come soon enough, someone else is waiting for you. Because someone else is waiting for you, you realize that you are not waiting for that someone.
Eventually you get on the train, by now you lost your sense of urgency, because either way you are late, not 45 minutes but a lifetime. What you admit as defeat, someone else sees at an act of not caring and by the second the waiting person sees you, she frowns. She wants to throw something at you, but being in public, with the toddler, you know, that all you can do is, play it cool and all she can do, is act very cold towards you.
This happens another 124 times in the time you have been with her or any other girl or the other way around, maybe you were on time and she was always late. Maybe there wasn’t even a kid involved, maybe there was another person involved, maybe there was nothing at all in between you and her or him. Maybe, it was just not meant to be. And your mother keeps telling you, the right one will come along, eventually, just wait it out.
You are not born with patience, but you learn patience, like when you are awaiting for your love to emerge from a sea of faces, when exiting the conveyor-belts at the airport after long absence. You learn patience, when waiting for your big day, your graduation day, the day you get your driver’s license, the day you get to meet your idol, the day you get your first tattoo or what ever way you like to define your big day. You learn to wait, when staring at the sky, hoping for a glimpse of the northern lights. And you appreciate it, the wait that is, because all too soon, that moment is over and you move on to a different life-changing moment. That’s just how it works.
Of course, there are days, when waiting is a bit easier, like when you know that what ever you are waiting for is going to happen but you don’t know exactly when. Other times, it is not so easy, like when you are on the Bachelor and are waiting for a rose, that never comes your way, and all of TV-land captures your misfortune. Sometimes it’s easier because you instantly get rewarded, other times the reward comes with time and you sometimes wonder if all of this is worth it. Probably. Or probably not. You don’t know until later, because when you are in that moment, waiting impatiently, you cannot grasp the concept of whether it makes sense or not.
I often find myself freaking myself out, turning knots in my stomach and getting flustered and frustrated, because ultimately, there’s nothing you can do but wait (and obsess about it). At least, I know, that what ever I could have done, I did and what ever happens next, is not up to me. I did my part, now waiting for others to do their part. I hate waiting, just as everyone else does. Waiting for the bus, waiting for a letter, waiting for the exams to start, waiting for a phone call, waiting for better weather, waiting for vacation, waiting for pay-day. It is all the same, it is all agonizing but some waits are just a bit more bearable than others.
I think in all the daily waiting we do, we sometimes forget, to enjoy what is right in front of us. Like a morning with a toddler at a cafe. A train ride to city center, where there is always something to see, a good 2 hour snooze. A kind-worded email, the sudden thunderstorm in the middle of the summer. The opening of the gates when leaving for vacation. It is not always so easy to see the positive side of the wait, because sometimes you will get disappointed, more often than not that is. But it’s all good. At least, when looking around, you will see that you are not the only waiting around.