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  • Writer's pictureDulani Don Tennakoon

1. Waiting...

Updated: Nov 18, 2022


by Dr. Seuss

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

Hold On: The Life, Science, and Art of Waiting

Peter Toohey

Extract from the book -

You’re always waiting for something. Dr. Seuss was right about that. But it doesn’t have to mean that you’re always stuck in some awful location like “The Waiting Place.” Nor does it mean that you’re stuck in a long queue at the self-checkout in Safeway. You could be at a table with a man like Yamazaki-san or we could be in a delivery room waiting for the birth of a child. Most of us are holding on, or pausing, staying (“but stay still, I beg of you,” says Pozzo), biding our time, staying put, staying in holding pattern, liming (Trinidadian slang, Stefan Vranka tells me), anticipating (something good or bad), aroused, watchful, posted up, cooling our heels or cooling our jets, experiencing homoeostasis, or broody, brooding, sitting tight, compounding the interest (who’d be so lucky), clogged up, counting on it, expecting, figuring on, holding our horses, marinating (yes, really), dithering, afloat or even floating, frozen, hibernating, hanging, hanging about, standstill, lollygagging, postponing, procrastinating, wavering, yearning, longing, restricted, holding our horses, holding on, idling, hanging about, deferring (“nothing to be done,” as Vladimir and Estragon would say), putting it off, not leaving (“I won’t leave, I won’t ever leave you”), abiding, showing endurance, being patient (Patrick Leigh Fermor cooks up “impavid patience”), hoping, hanging on, hanging around, hanging fire, remaining, tarrying, meandering, dreading, or stopping (Stop!).3 That is just how it is. All of them. And we don’t always mind it. The waiting can be as often as good as it can be bad. I think it’s more often good than bad, but that may just be me.4 Though I can tell you now that I’m no optimist. That’s just how it is. What we’ll be looking at in particular are some of the good waiting situations.5 That’s because they are often ignored. But you can’t ignore the bad ones, “the dusk . . . the strain . . . the waiting,” as Pozzo warns, and the grieving, the slow dying, and the dead children. And dread is such a part of the nature of waiting that it can’t be passed over either. I’ll also talk a lot about how there seem to be coping devices that people use to transform an emotional situation like waiting, when it is intolerable or just bad, into something not just good, but even useful. That of course is when it’s possible to do this. Your chances for transformation mightn’t be good if you’re waiting in front of a firing squad like Maximilian I of Mexico

This got me thinking of all the different types of waiting we do and how in each situation the waiting part can make us feel a completely different way.

For example, waiting to go on holiday is filled with excitement and the feeling that time isn't moving fast enough. Compared to, waiting for your test results to come back which is filled with anticipation and a sick feeling in your stomach.

The list I made of moments of waiting during the day seems like moments of insignificant waiting, in comparison to the two examples above. It doesn’t stir much emotion, as they are very mundane happenings, most likely it will leave you with a feeling of indifference. But if you add urgency to it, it makes waiting into something more challenging.

If I was incredibly hungry and wanted to have food immediately, waiting for my pasta to cook is going to be a lot more irritable and I'm definitely going to be hangry. Or, if I'm late for my lecture and I'm standing by the water fountain waiting for my water bottle to fill up, its going to make me very impatient and panicked, because I don't want to walk in late and have everyone stare at me while I try to find a seat.

The Waiting Mode

As I delved deeper into the concept of waiting, I stumbled across, 'the waiting mode'.

The waiting mode is not being able to do anything but wait. For example, you might have an appointment and even though you have time to do other things, the waiting mode is triggered, leaving you stuck waiting hours before your appointment.

'It doesn’t matter if we want to do them. We just wait. We wait, consumed by a vague sense of anxiety around the upcoming appointment and, if you’re anything like me, feelings of guilt and shame for being stuck and not managing to use this time more effectively.'

- Maaya Hitomi, an ADHD Coach with a Master's in Psychology.

Personally, I could relate to this as I would also feel this when I used to go to work. My shift would be at 5:30pm but I wouldn't be able to anything the whole day, I would have to stay home. I definitely wouldn't be able to do anything that required too much time or going out too far. I remember the anxiety that I felt while waiting.

I think that is the most interesting part, it's the different types of emotions that comes along with waiting.

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