excerpt du jour ~ ban breathnach

Waiting is one of the great arts.
~Margery Allingham

Until recently, I’ve shared T. S. Eliot’s approach to waiting. “Hurry up please it’s time.” But it never is time for the waiting to be over, until it’s time.  No matter how much wringing of the hands, crying, begging, or bargaining we do, the waiting will continue until it’s damn good and ready, which is rarely soon enough.

It’s been my excruciating experience—over and over—that the torture of waiting only ceases after you’re no longer consciously aware that you’re waiting. You stop jumping every time the phone rings, stop checking your e-mail every half hour, stop pacing up and down until the post arrives. Exhausted, you loosen your grip on the situation. Why? Because you’ve given up, that’s why. Lost hope. Let go. Licked your wounds and moved on. Call it what you will, you’ve detached yourself from the final outcome, as the enlightened would say. But what malarkey that sounds like when you’re driven half mad with desire.

How I wait:
First week: Hopeful. Confident. Cheery.
Second week: Optimistic. Philosophical. Edgy.
Third week: Discouraged. Depressed. Snarly.
Fourth week: Have mercy! Hurry up please it’s time! I don’t care what happens, just let the torment be over!
Fifth week: I don’t want to talk about it. Don’t you dare tell me the Universe knows best.
Indeterminable time in the future: Oh, my God. You’re kidding! Really? You wouldn’t joke about this, would you? I don’t believe it! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!

Well, now, that wasn’t so bad.

The only good thing to be said about waiting, and I hate to be the one to say it, is that it works. Waiting is the soul of the Divine Scheme of Things, whether it suits our plans or not. Heaven and earth may pass away but waiting won’t, so we’d better learn to deal.

What waiting is not: Waiting is not punishment, bad karma, or lousy luck, although at any wretched moment while you’re waiting it feels that way.

The truth is that waiting is when the magic happens. Waiting is the mystical space between the dreaming and its coming true. What we need to do is remember all the times that waiting felt full, rather than empty. When a woman is pregnant, planning a dream vacation, or long-desired renovations, waiting feels like a state of grace. She’s willing to wait because she’s fairly certain she knows what the outcome will be. It’s when we haven’t a clue as to what’s going to happen that we go crazy. So let’s realize that uncertainty, not waiting, is the enemy. And I can’t help you with that this morning, any more than I can help myself. I guess we’ll just have to wait it out.

I know a woman who waits with such infinite grace, she makes waiting look like fun. “How do you do it? What is your secret?” I asked her. Get busy, she told me. Distract yourself, as you would a small child. Become self-indulgent. Do the unexpected. Plan on treating yourself to something so wildly extravagant that if the Universe doesn’t deliver the goods, you will. This way, you can detach yourself from the outcome. Finally, remember, as Carrie Fisher tells us, “Waiting, done at really high speeds, will frequently look like something else.”

~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor

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5 thoughts on “excerpt du jour ~ ban breathnach

  1. How interesting that you would write about waiting. I don’t know how many times I said this past week to anyone and everyone, “I’m learning how to wait.”
    Thank you for a great post.

  2. Pingback: Charting a Creative Course | the daily creative writer

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