Waiting doesn’t come naturally to children. Whether it’s the incessant “are we there yet?” or the pleas of “when’s dinner?” children want time to speed up. I remember riding my bicycle up to my elementary school in August to see if the class lists were posted yet. These held special importance for me and my friends since they let us know not only our next teacher but also our next classmates. It took several bike rides until I finally got to see the list taped on my fall classroom door. And who among us couldn’t wait to be “grown up?”
As adults we need the capacity to wait, and it appears many adults don’t possess it. From the person huffing and mumbling behind me in the checkout line to the car behind me in slow traffic, other adults are impatient. The culture caters to this at the moment. On a drive last week I passed a billboard which displayed how long I could expect to wait in the hospital’s emergency room. I can’t imagine rushing an emergency to take advantage of the short wait time!
Waiting is seen as so unpleasant that in every place I will need to wait someone has installed a television. So the doctor’s office, the airport, the gas station and the grocer store sport televisions. If a transaction takes a couple of minutes a clerk will almost always apologize for making me wait, fending off my potential criticism I guess.
Mindfulness seems designed to teach people to wait. It encourages them to be in the moment, not in the future. I didn’t need to take it up to learn to wait. I had many years of experience waiting while I grew up. Now I treasure those times of stillness, when they aren’t interrupted by a television, when the only thing that I have to do is wait.