the ability to sit still, to wait (with grace), to wonder in the waiting.
Patience has fallen out of practice and become nearly obsolete. Technology grants us immediacy. I don’t deny the benefits of this, of course, but the drawbacks are also undeniable.
Answers to just about every conceivable question reside only a Google search away, we can mobile order coffee or fast food to shrink our wait time. No need to wait until the morning newspaper or the evening news, when notifications pop up on the screen in our hands with obtrusive regularity, a competition to get the story out first, even at the sacrifice for getting the story out accurately. No need to wait until the next week to see what happens next in our favorite shows, when entire seasons are available for consumption in a single binge ridden viewing. The people in our lives are just a quick text message away, and when the blinking dots don’t pop up immediately, we wonder what is wrong, or worse…we get angry and defensive, instead of considering that it was us who intruded into their moment, into their attempt to live into their own lives and that a response might take time. In the same way, we feel the need to reply to incoming messages instantaneously–our swiftness, at times, leading to abbreviation and single letter responses…a halting cadence that surrenders the inhale and exhale of conversation.
These options, in bringing ease to our lives, make us comfortable and lull us into believing everything requires expediency…that we should be living our lives at a faster pace…that if we aren’t moving quickly, moreso than those around us, then we most certainly must be falling behind. We move about our days and nights at a frantic pace because we have created a world that is impossible to keep up with…a world that denies the worth of pausing to breathe…a world that admires accomplishment despite the cost.
But when we slow down, the world becomes a different place, if for no other reason than we have taken the time to see and hear it…in detail, rather than in the superficial assumptions of the blur of sight and sound that appear in the rush. When we sit patiently and talk with someone, when we engage face to face, and when we listen as they speak, when we witness the emotion on their face and hear the tone in their voice rather than simply noting an emoji, something deeper happens. Suddenly a stranger’s distance isn’t so far, suddenly the commonality of the human experience reveals itself. When we take the time to explore issues beyond the headlines and social media posts that feed our sort of selfish ambitions to be right, when we seek truth rather than confirmation, the human beings that people these issues come to life. Suddenly, because we slowed down, the single story becomes many, layered. Suddenly, because we slowed down, the simple becomes complex. Suddenly, because we slowed down, our world view shifts even if only slightly.
When we get out of our own way, when we stop to see the truth that swirls around each of us, when we finally notice the beauty surrounding us, empathy flourishes…when that happens, the waiting will have been worth it.
(Day 36–a bit revision and extension–not perfect, but still working on it)