I’ve had this sense of waiting for a very long time, but didn’t realize until yesterday how much energy I put into waiting. I wait for the phone to ring. I wait for the mail to come. I check each of my email accounts several times a day, waiting for . . . hoping for . . . I don’t know what. Perhaps a few words that will make sense of my life? Maybe a sense of connection to another person or to life itself?
This pervasive sense of waiting started years ago when my life mate/soul mate first got sick. I used to wait for him to get better, and then, during that final, terrible year, I waited for him to die. After his death, I waited for the worst of my grief to pass. I waited for him to call and tell me I can come home — he never did, of course, and I understand now. . . I feel it . . . that he never will. I also waited for something wonderful to happen, because only something extraordinarily good could balance such a trauma as his death. Since life does not keep a balance sheet and does not seem to care that we need to believe in balance and fairness, I gave up that particular notion.
But still I wait.
When we are happy, we are automatically in the moment. We are where we want to be, so there is no more waiting — we have arrived. But when we are not particularly happy, it’s hard to accept the truth of the present, and we wait for something else.
I need to get past this sense of waiting and realize that however empty and lonely, this is my life at the moment. This is what I have to deal with. This is where I am. (And yet, at the same time, I have to allow for the possibility of something wonderful happening.)
Sometimes when I finish writing a blog post, I’ve figured out the answer to that day’s conundrum, but not this time. I haven’t a clue how to deal with this sense of waiting. Maybe I need to live more in the real world? Stay away from the internet with its siren song of expectation? That will be difficult. Offline, not much occurs in my life, but online there always seems to be something to do. Writing this essay for example. Clicking on facebook to see what is happening in my online world. Checking my email accounts, waiting for . . . hoping for . . .
July 6, 2012 at 3:21 am
Waiting. Me too. I try to participate in life, but it isn’t easy. Some days I just don’t have the energy. I’m still waiting to get my life started again. I do have some outside influences that are making me wait and there isn’t much I can do about it, except wait. I want a life again. Actually, I want my old life back, but that isn’t possible, so a new one will have to do.
July 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm
I’m still surprised how much energy all this takes. We’re also in the same position in that we really can’t charge into the future since those outside influences are at work, but even though I have to wait, I want to get rid of the feeling of waiting. Don’t know how to do that, though.
July 6, 2012 at 5:07 am
Waiting, perhaps of a far different kind that you’re caught up in, has seemed to me to be a large part of my writers life. When I first start writing, I sent short stories and poems everwhere, and then waited for (hopely) an acceptance letter and a check. Later, the novels went a similar route; in the old days before online submissions, one submitted to one publisher at a time and then the two to eight months of waiting began. I’m feeling that waiting thing again this year as I return to short stories, complete them, submit them, and wait to hear the results. Now that there are four novels out there, I feel that I’m waiting for reviews, waiting to hear that they have finally been found by readers, or waiting to see if a conference or book signing will materialize.
I know I should be more proactive, ignoring the submissions I’ve sent out and working on something new. But the waiting (for me) becomes a habit and a way of life. I need to DO rather than wait. Some say the joy of writing is in the writing, and yes, so it is, but at some point, one needs to earn an income and worrying about reviews, newspaper interviews and sales starts creeping back into the lifestyle. Perhaps we need hobbies, an electric train set in the basement, a list of trails to hike, stamp collecting, helping out at meals on wheels, something to engage the mind rather than being passive and waiting for the world to come to us.
July 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm
I’d forgotten about this particular phase of the writing gig — the waiting — perhaps because I’ve given up expecting anything from it. I haven’t given up doing what I can to get my books known, of course, I just don’t want to continue hoping every day for something that could take years. (And yet I still check almost everyday to see if I have any new reviews or have sold any books. Apparently, I am a liar!)
There should be something we can do to get the world to come to us. I mean, we’re worth it, right?
July 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm
I think perhaps you accidentally slipped into an answer here. You conflated the words “wait” and “hope”. Perhaps you are not so much waiting, as hoping. You hope life changes, becomes different, becomes not what it is. Perhaps the answer is to stop waiting, stop hoping, and simply choose. Waiting and hoping feel to me as if you’re expecting some outside thing to change, to take charge for you. Perhaps the answer lies in not relying on something/someone else, but taking back your life, taking control of your present, and actively choosing your future.
July 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm
You make good sense, Pat. I’ll have to think about what you said. To actively choose a future, though, I would have to know what I want to choose, and I’d have to be free to choose it. Considering that I’m taking care of my father, I can’t really put any plans into action, but I am working on living more in the present. There is also the problem that I don’t know what I want to do or be. A big part of the waiting has been waiting for the worst of my grief to pass, and that is finally happening. One thing I’m waiting for that I didn’t mention was that I’m waiting to fall in love with something — not someone, but something. Like Richard Gere discovering ballroom dancing in “Let us Dance.” Meantime, I am trying new things, going new places, trying to expand my boundaries, practicing for the day when I will have to choose.
July 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm
Not HAVE to choose, WANT to choose. Only you can say when it’s right, and yes, you have other obligations and I admire you for being such a great caretaker, but choosing what we want to do or be isn’t an oboigation (a “have” to), it’s listening to our deep desires and being joyous about our choices. Sounds like you’re on that path!
July 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm
I always love reading what you have to say but this time it related to me more than usual. I have the same feeling of delay, waiting for something to happen, to change and it expresses itself most through life online. I do the same things you mentioned…Facebook, email, Gather posts, and still nothing has changed, nothing is different, nothing comes. My life is delayed, I feel frozen in place. I have had this feeling for years and know it to be a facet of clinical depression. I fear that online life is contributing to my lack of progress and yet I can’t seem to tear myself away.
I’ve had the internet since it’s availability isn the late ’90’s and I’m not sure how I would be without it. That alone tells me I should give that a try. But like other ‘facts of life’ like television or cars or cell phones I’m not sure there is a going back. I think i will have to try to manage my online experience. But I can’t seem to find the will to do so.
I live a life of grief without having the incident of grief. There’s been no death, no loss in my life… well, that might not be totally accurate but that’s for another time. I want to say to you that what you write touches and inspires your readers and I’m one of those readers. Thank you dear. wanda
July 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm
You always say the loveliest things to me, Wanda.
I’ve only been on the internet five years, and you’re right — there is no going back. There is too much of offline life that only exists online (such as tax booklets). I just need to get beyond the feeling that something is going to happen and just deal with what is, as sad as that might be.
I hope you can find a way out of your grief. At least, with having the incident of grief, there is the possibility of ongoing life providing some insulation, but if there is nothing to be insulated from, it must be even more difficult to find peace.
July 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm
If you turn waiting, which is passive, into planning, which is active, your life instantly gets more interesting, even if you aren’t in a position to make any of the plans happen right now.
July 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm
And I have been planning — I still am planning on taking a freighter to New Zealand someday. Should be a life-changing experience.
July 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm
It’s going to be great! I am really looking forward to it.