Long lines at the train station, supermarket check-out counter, the doctor’s waiting room, enlistment and enrollment—we’ve all had to endure waiting one way or the other. Sometimes, waiting in a dark hallway seems to emphasize lack of choice—or the difficult situation one is in.
Some accept waiting as a fact of life, others get impatient and take an alternate route—or give up entirely. There are those who opt for an alternate route even if it will cost them substantial amounts of money or debts of gratitude. But for others, there simply is no other option but to wait.
It’s not that bad, really, because it affords time that would otherwise be spent laboring away at what one does daily. It could be a time to reflect, to meditate, to plan ahead.
There have been many things in my life that I rushed. I probably would not have made such decisions if I waited long enough. Then again, as my mom always said, regrets come only after such decisions are made.
One waits for eggs to hatch, flowers to bloom, caterpillars to become butterflies. We wait for cookies to bake, food to marinate, babies to grow in their mothers’ wombs. Indeed, waiting is involved in everything! If only I had realized early enough that waiting is part of life, I probably would not have rushed through many things I experienced.
Cameras used to have films that needed to be “developed” and then printed. Developing them required precise timing. Kimchi, bagoong, buro and many other delicious food taste the way they do after some time—with a lot of waiting! Even fruits need time to ripen! Don’t we wait while these things happen?
Yes, we do, but we do not realize this because we do other things while waiting. Moms would know what I mean when I describe doing household chores all at the same time. So, even if one has to wait for rice to cook in the rice cooker, or for meat to become tender—or even for the washer to finish its rinse cycle, one hardly notices because there are other chores.
Idleness is what makes waiting difficult. So, some read books, do Sudoku or crosswords, while others squeeze in some chores. Depending on where you’re waiting, you can catch up on sleep as well.
For waiting to become meaningful, one must find other things to attend to. Recently, I had to make a difficult decision. Immediately after I did, I had time to think things over while waiting for my daughter’s turn at the doctor’s office. Only then did I see how many seemingly unrelated things were coming together—things I thought I should set aside—even if only temporarily. It was while waiting that I was able to assess my situation and the great opportunities presenting themselves to me.
As I walked towards the window at the end of the hallway, I realized how brighter it was outside. I hadn’t noticed the view from where I sat, but there it was, as if telling me I was free.