The Humanity Found in the Waiting
'The world does not revolve around me. And I can wait.'
By Allison Antram
Learn more about Allison here.
It’s overdone and unremarkable to say that America is a convenience-based, get-it-now kind of culture. Some combined grievance of privileged society, hyper-advanced technology and social media has shrunken our attention spans and our capacity for inconveniences or delays. We simply cannot tolerate, have no formula for, waiting.
Ah, what a loop the pandemic threw all of us. We are now required to wait for our long-planned vacations. For family gatherings. In line for Trader Joe’s. What was once so inherently fast and convenient has become just the opposite. Everything requires thought, patience, a reworked schedule. The delay of our desires is now the norm, if not the entire cancellation. We have no category for loss of personal control, which is precisely what this year has required of us. So what have we learned in the in-between?
Have we finally felt our grief, or maybe even boredom? And did we lean in to experience it, or run?
Did we relearn how to appreciate (or cook) a home cooked meal, around a table with familiar and loved faces?
Have you felt your pulse slowing down? Your schedule returning to a more humane speed?
Did you feel the discomfort of non-instantaneous gratification? Better yet, was there something to learn from it?
In the waiting, we find a number of things: how deeply our expectations were hinged on what we must now wait for, how restless or anxious our hearts have become, the magnificent impatience of our own character. Most simply put, our humanity.
When we wait, we forcibly surrender the idea that we are part-machine, in full control and simply can’t spare the time. We are messy flesh, in such little control, and we must spare the time. Where our phones now occupy our minutes of discontented waiting in line, we once would have to look at the other human beings around us, and talk about the mundanity of being human.
“I can’t believe how cold it’s been!”
“My daughter has hair just like yours.
“Is that book any good? I’ve been thinking of picking it up.”
All conversations that have happened, in checkout lines, sweetly and unremarkably. They were not productive, it wasn’t about networking, it didn’t get me to the Target cashier any faster. But it reminded me that this person next to me––whatever we may or may not have in common––shares some form of humanity with me. The world does not revolve around me. And I can wait.
Last year, in the height of a pandemic, waiting to be released from my tiny apartment, I found many simple, precious gifts of being human. Learning how to make some very ideal cinnamon rolls. Walking––a lot––and relearning the streets of my own neighborhood, picking out favorite trees that blossomed in a particularly stunning way. Appreciating conversations in any form, even through screens.
Waiting dethrones us from our overly self-important agendas. In rediscovering our own humanity hidden in the discomforts of impatience, we also find the humanity in others, the beauty around us, and a life set to a pace that requires our full attention. Look around. By the grace of God, we may soon be free from pandemic burdens and inconveniences, but we can still choose to return to the wait.
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