In this Time of Waiting
Humans spend much of their time waiting. Dr. Suess said it best in his book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, as he described “The Waiting Place”:
For people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
The holiday season from Halloween to the New Year is full of things to wait for. So, as we enter into this time of waiting—for presents, for family, for time off from work, for snow or sunshine— here is something to keep in mind: life does not stop because of something exciting in the future.
Actively waiting is the best way to wait. Not only does it distract you from the passing time, but it means that if things don’t work out the way you want them to, you aren’t completely back at square one.
In my life this will be extremely important to remember as I submit my writing to various publishers. It doesn’t matter if I’m submitting a book or a devotion. I must keep writing in the interim. Simply submitting a devotion to a publisher will not keep food on the table. Even if that devotion gets selected, the money I receive from selling it might make it possible for me to go out for dinner once. In the same way, after I’ve submitted a book, I can not stop editing or writing other novels. If I stop and the book I submitted doesn’t get published, I’ve spent four or more months of my life and have nothing to show for the time.
Don’t do that. Even in the case of waiting for a friend to arrive at a coffee shop, have a book you can read, a project to work on, or a hobby you can practice. That way, if for some reason they don’t show up or they’re going to be fifteen minutes late you don’t have to waste the time.
Active waiting can look like many things. Most of us are familiar with the sensation of getting the house the most clean in ten minutes before guests come over rather than the three hours we had in which we could have been vacuuming or organizing the pillows on the couch. The cleaning that happens in those ten minutes is an ideal example of active waiting. Rather than sit still, partially out of excitement, you’ve been making your environment more welcoming both to yourself and your guest.
Still stuck on ideas for ways to better spend your time rather than surf through social media for fifteen minutes while your friend fights their way through traffic? Here are a few options:
Start doodling a character in a few different ways. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be consistent. This can lead to a comic in your future or a fun note for your kids as you send them to school.
Pick up a book and read a few pages.
Finish any last minute cleaning or organizing.
Set up whatever refreshments you want to offer your friend. Do you have left over desserts from Thanksgiving? If they’re out on the table when your friend arrives, they’re more likely to get eaten.
Write a few paragraphs in a paper for school, or a story you’re working on.
Active waiting is the purposeful seeking out things to do in the midst of traveling from point A to point B, so that when you get to point B, you are much farther ahead than you were before.
Have thoughts about active waiting? Let me know on social media @AuthorJJHanna.
J. J. Hanna is attending Taylor University for a degree in Professional Writing. She has published multiple devotions and book reviews and is a beginning comic artist. She published her first book, Existence, in 2015. Look for it on Amazon.