Cliches are wonderful things aren't they? We often use them without a second thought. A number of years ago I was in a grocery store pondering the saying "all things come to those who wait". Whilst in my pensive state, I blocked the produce aisle "waiting" for the desired cauliflower, cabbage and carrots to "come" into my shopping cart. I waited. I waited. They didn't co-operate. My visions of veggies with little smiling faces, canes and top hats, dancing toward me from their assorted shelved spots became more and more vivid. They provided me with considerable mental entertainment before an impatient person nearby muttered something about "rude people...inconsiderate...blocking the okra". Who buys okra anyhow? I remained in my trance-like state for a while longer. Suddenly, I was jolted back to reality by the realization that I was too close to the vegetable sprayer. It hit its intended fresh and fibrous targets but also overshot just enough to moisten my newly coiffed hair and dampen not only my fun but my freshly made-up face.
Through this experience, I did confirm what I already knew. I was a little "off" on the meaning of the expression "all things come to those who wait". So I began to consider it differently.
When we are speaking to youngsters we often say "just wait" thereby implying that their childhood excitement and exhuberance is a bad thing. Certainly, we want to teach them a modicum of patience, not to mention good manners. On the other hand, perhaps we could learn from children. During their early years, patience is almost non existent. A minute to a small child might as well be an hour. Next week? Well, forget it. Next month, next year, next Christmas all feel as though they'll never come. Everything needs to happen in the here and now and many of their important events do. Going out to play, having a cookie, watching t.v., playing a game on the computer...all things that they are able to do immediately and all things essential in a child's world.
At some point, children enter the planning stage. By this I mean they discuss and develop their play by announcing things like "let's pretend you're the bad guy and I'm the good guy...no wait, I wanna be the cop and let's say you're the good guy who helps him" and so on. They often spend so much time planning, that they run out of available time before they actually play their game. Is this the stage where many of us are stuck as adults? Whereas "patience can be a virtue", yet another cliche, I think a lot of people spend too much of their lives "waiting" and planning for a future that may or may not come. What exactly are they waiting for? Do they even know what they expect to happen at the end of their wait? At what point does the waiting end?
Teens wait to be out on their own, having their independence, own money and living space. Young adults wait for their ideal job, mate and house. Adults wait for the children to be grown and older adults wait for retirement. In fact, some spend all of their time "waiting", as if at some point, a magical time will appear when their lives will be perfect and fulfilled. Some people even plan their death before they consider their lives. I was at a conference recently where the speaker said words something like "Are you there yet and what does there look like?" In my opinion, we should always be "there".
Some time after the great supermarket veggie caper, I concluded that I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of not living until I die. What was wrong with childlike excitement, exhuberance and yes, even a little impatience? I changed a lot of my attitude and perspective. I was through planning and waiting. Amazingly, all things came to me at that point. Why? Because I was no longer passive. I became an active participant in my own life.
Thanks to Violet Fane for these words that I wish I'd written...
"Ah, all things come to those who wait, (I say these words to make me glad), But something answers soft and sad, They come, but often come too late."