My flight was delayed, and delayed again, and thrice delayed. The first two delays came before I left for the airport, so I waited an extra two hours at home. It was a strange mental space that waiting. I’d already settled the kids for my absence. It would have made sense to use the time for extra work, but I had packed away all of my work thoughts. They were folded neatly to wait until I returned from my trip. I did not want to open them up. It would have made sense to begin unfolding my writer thoughts, to start musing on story elements and what I would write during the retreat. Yet somehow my brain would not do that either. It was as if that cupboard had a time release lock which would not open until after I had boarded the plane. Besides, my laptop was packed already. So I waited, opening myself to the sensation of waiting, pondering those Dr. Seuss verses about The Waiting Place, and swinging in a hammock, because hammocks invite one to be present in now rather than rushing toward something else. Eventually I opened the book which was supposed to be my in-flight reading. I read while I waited.
Life frequently offers us pauses, places of waiting because we can’t move forward in the ways that we want or expect. I do not like them, they feel like time wasted. I get grouchy when I have to wait for my computer to restart, or the light to change, or someone to respond to a query, let alone an additional three hour wait to board a plane. These imposed waits feel like time stolen from me. I had to wait hours until the airline was prepared to take me to my destination. Even boarding the plane was the end of one wait only to begin another one. I thought about waiting as I drove to the airport, because I expected eight hours of traveling and during most of it my job was to wait patiently. I wished that I could skip the travels and just arrive. But then I remembered my last retreat and the way that the journey quieted my thoughts, slowed me down, and let me begin to shift my thinking into a different gear. Sometimes an imposed wait can be a gift, though often I don’t see that gift until later when I see the fruits of it. Waiting changes me, particularly when I accept and embrace it.
I could spend all my life rushing toward destinations and being frustrated by everything in between. Instead I need to remember the times spent swinging gently in a hammock swing, when waiting becomes its own reward.