The Path of Waiting
Photograph by Zen Doe
Spring seems to be on permanent hold this year. The flowers have tried their hardest not to bloom. A few have surrendered to the force of their nature and opened, only to be frozen or crushed by snow. The horses are shedding, the spring birds have arrived, but there’s not a warm day in sight. It seems everyone and everything is waiting.
Waiting. It’s the universal human experience. We wait for the garage to call and say that our car is ready, we wait for our turn at the post office, we wait for the call from the doctor or the vet. We wait. We live in a suspended state, with all of our attention on that thing that we are waiting for. It’s uncomfortable. It feels glacial. It seems that nothing is right until that thing happens or is resolved, and then we can get on with our lives. What an interesting notion!
Because it is so uncomfortable, we go to all kinds of lengths to distract ourselves from the obsession with the issue. When waiting involves a potentially serious outcome, fear can arise with an intensity that can be utterly debilitating. And yet, nothing has happened yet.
Next time you find yourself in the bardo, the purgatory of waiting, take the opportunity to look at it. “What?! No! Why would I want to examine my mind in such an uncomfortable state?! Forget that!”
Waiting is a wonderful teacher. If you are willing to stand hand in hand with your waiting for a few moments, you may find that it’s not quite as much of a monster as it seems. Rather, it’s a potent cue to take a breath and experience what’s really happening in this moment. Notice the steam rising from your coffee cup, the temperature of the air, the feel of your body in your chair. The tension of your muscles. Breathe again. Relax a bit. Just this moment is all there is.