Waiting—we all do it. We wait for the movie to start, the train to come, the weekend, our vacation. We can’t wait until we meet the “right” partner, we’re in the perfect job, or we have more money. What we’re really doing in all these situations is waiting for our life to happen. We’re waiting for the next thing, biding our time. It isn’t your fault, you might say, “the train isn’t here yet” or “I’m so unhappy in my job.” Perhaps, but consider this: The train may never come. Then what? Your life will have been about just waiting. If this idea doesn’t appeal to you, then you can begin to transform your waiting time into being-present time.
One way to convert the “waiting” into “being” is with language. All it takes is some willingness and then awareness. Each time you notice yourself using the word wait, change it to something else. For instance, “I’m waiting for the train; it’s late again” can be changed to “I’m at the train station. My train isn’t on schedule. That gives me time to read without distraction. What a gift.” This is an example of a shift from negative, biding-time language to positive, present-moment language. Feel the difference? And once your language changes, your attitude and behavior will change. And then peace of mind will be close at hand.
Usually, we get irritated if we find ourselves waiting for something or someone, because we feel duped. We did not schedule the waiting time into our day, we are in a hurry to get to the next thing, and we feel at the mercy of some outside force, all of which makes us feel like victims. But if we can see the flip side of this and admit that it is not something being done to us, it is just something that happens, we can then react in a more positive way and use it to our advantage.
Waiting can be an opportunity, a gift of time, to spend constructively, frivolously, or however else you choose. Use it to do the crossword puzzle or read that magazine you never have time to otherwise. Daydream or write a love letter that you may never send. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Not to pass the time, but to be present in time. Notice how time expands when you’re waiting for something else to happen. The seconds seem to tick by slower than usual. Rather than defining this as lost time, see it as found time, as time that moves slowly, time that you can be in and savor. Once you rephrase your approach to this waiting period, settle down into it and let the power of it, the gift of it, wash over you and create stillness in your mind. You will see how easy this is to do once you do it the first time. Coax your mind back from its destination—where you expected to be once the “waiting” is over—and be present in your current circumstances. You will learn soon enough that you can’t be anywhere else. So why not be here and enjoy it? Otherwise, one day your life will be over and you won’t remember how you got there.