This morning I squint out the window at my apartment's backyard with its well-kept plants and lawn. The shadows under the white pines mingle with those of the Japanese Maple in the foreground. Habitually, my eye passes over the bird bath and the wood picnic table as I unconsciously inspect to see if any visitors are present. I stretch between expectations of arrivals in the next few hours or minutes and what is happening at the present moment. Staring out of simple curiosity as I do when I walk the mall I'm drawn to the scene's multitude of colours and shapes. However, even with different viewpoints a choice of living alone often brings on the sense of unavoidable waiting. I ask myself if I could have better planned my choice and realize the absurdity of all that. With a preponderance of so many others over 70 who have chosen a lifestyle of perceived independence and personal freedoms, there are too many spaces for loneliness to creep in. The memory of my father's lectures to keep busy seems inadequate here for transforming this present inertia into some creative waiting.
…patient waiting had to be long and quiet lest you scare off the prey..
Waiting too had been a big part of our inheritance, at least since the industrial revolution began when we waited for machines to finish whatever they were doing for us. A way back when we had to hunt for protein, patient waiting had to be long and quiet lest you scare off the prey. You dare not even sneeze. Fewer hunters today hunt to put food on their table. However, as a sport, hunters spend as much as 50K on gear, licenses, boat, firearms and ammunition. Today, even the skinning of deer, for example, has little-associated wait time with it. Using a noose and the power of a truck pulls off skin in seconds — obviously a more gruesome practice that the ancient hunting techniques we know. In these times it's easy to see that we have diverted from our natural skills of gathering foodstuffs from the land; instead, the use of stores collect the goods for us from farmers. We are now free to spend time on our projects, preferences and mischief. Evolution has changed the way we do things, and our wait is different.
We might say that the more we must wait the more restless we become but that's not quite right. It's different for everyone. For example, one woman's pregnancy may be an enjoyable space where the time passes quickly and beautifully. For another, it may be a dreadfully long wait because the mother-to-be didn't have a very good feeling about it in the beginning. In this case, the quality of the wait and what we do has a big effect on how we perceive that time span. We wait for trains, buses, persons to call or meet, interviews, doctor, dentist, lawyer's appointments. In the process, some of us butt in line or interrupt conversations because we can't wait to express ourselves. We honk at slower drivers and speed as if we can't wait to get to the funeral parlor. We buy on credit instead of waiting and saving for our purchases. Everything we buy is manufactured to save us time and profit someone else. Even my toaster has warning lights that don't do much more than remind me of what I paid for it. Stoves and fridges and freezers have features that save us time such as timers and frost eliminators. Everything is made easy for us, and we can erroneously believe that with this pattern going on continuously we will eventually perfect our society with no challenges whatsoever ahead. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case.
Christopher Muther writes about "instant gratification making us perpetually impatient" in areas such as shopping, online purchasing and internet use.
It's also sad that insensitive families can resort to expediency as a function of the urge to get things done without demonstrating much care. Consider the scenario of a senior who has left a will instructing his family to bequeath certain items to a designated charity. When the family inspects his belongings, they cannot identify those specific items even though they are present somewhere. Instead of looking a little deeper they toss out most of the things that are unusable, including the donation, because of fear that the soon-to-arrive mover will charge more if he is kept waiting. Situations like this are an everyday occurrence, and it underscores the importance of preparation and preparing a will and assigning a trusted power of attorney.
Tomorrow when I look out the window I'll have a different viewpoint. A will sounds like a great idea. I'll make an appointment to see the lawyer. My hunch is that I won't have to wait long even if I'm not in a hurry.©