Per the studies, we spend, on average, anywhere from 6 months to 3 years of our lives just waiting in lines, assuming a 70 year lifespan. We spend 23,214 hours waiting for our laundry, 653 hours waiting for the train, and a similar (or greater) amount of time waiting for the bus. We spend a staggering 20 weeks on hold, waiting for someone to come back on the line to talk with us. We wait, on average, 32 minutes each time we need to be seen by a doctor. We spend 37,935 hours driving…waiting to get where we’re going. And we spend about 6 months of our lives waiting at red lights. We spend a great deal of time…precious time…waiting. But there are other, more weighty things we wait for, even as we go about the business of living. Waiting, while not really appreciating the time we are frittering away. We wait for our graduation, from high school or college, or perhaps both. We eagerly anticipate arriving at the age at which we will be “legal” so we can drink. That time when we can walk in a liquor store and buy whatever we want…let them card us! We wait impatiently to become an adult, which is normally achieved, per society, when we turn 18. We also wait to finally be able to drive. To vote for the first time. We wait for the day we get our very first apartment, moving from our childhood home, free at last! Life awaits us and we wait for it to begin. We wait to fall in love, to find our soul mate, to get a good job, to have our first child, to get that promotion, to move to the location of our dreams, to be able to afford that dream house. We wait for the day we finally have a car of our own, our own bank account, can come home when we please and do what we want when we’re out. We wait for fulfillment and hope, to find love, friendship and happiness, to achieve whatever it is we desire to achieve. We wait and wait and wait for the good things in life to come our way. We are always waiting for something. Always looking forward to what is to come. Until there is nothing left to look forward to and we return to the dust from which we came. A good portion of our life is spent seeking something we don’t have while waiting for us to finally reach some arbitrary goal.
Some of us, those who haven’t been fortunate to get a good, healthy start in life, wait for healing and wholeness. We wait for the broken places to be fitted back together, for the wounds to become scars that we can live with and maybe cover with makeup and a smile. We wait for some level of mental health, for the ability to see life as a gift and not a curse or horrible struggle. We wait and wait and wait and wait. And most of us, sadly, die waiting.
While we are waiting for the good things, for the better things in life to come our direction, we are generally working toward the goals we have set before ourselves. Those goals may be highly defined or loosely outlined. They may be more of a vague dream than anything, ghostly and not often noticed. Or we may have a written plan we refer to weekly. Whatever our approach, we work and wait and wait and wait. And once we achieve and cross something off the list, we move on to the next item. If we are fortunate enough to achieve, that is. Because many of us wait and work and wait and wait for things and goals that are never realized. We give it all the effort we can muster, but it is somehow never enough. Those things that come easy for some never come to others. Some of us wait forever and never realize many, if any, of our dreams.
Here’s the kicker: waiting is actually nothing more than spending time.
We have a finite amount of time to spend, you know. A great deal of it goes toward sleeping (22 to 26 years) and working (99,117 hours). Even as you are reading this, you are spending some of your seconds and minutes. Once spent, they are forever gone. There is no rewind button and no you don’t get any do-overs. Time is moving, swiftly moving, even when it feels as if it’s standing still. And as we go about our days, waiting for the bus, waiting at the red light, waiting in line to buy coffee, waiting for the elevator, waiting for an opening in traffic, waiting for the work day to end, waiting for an interview, waiting for vacation, waiting for our meal to cook, waiting for the water to get hot so we can take a shower, we are allowing our treasure of time to be pilfered. We are letting it go without even fighting for it. Without even making a note of it. We are not making every second count.
We have become so accustomed to waiting, we fail to notice that our life is being eroded and sucked away from us until it is nearly gone. Then we look back in shock and wonder where all the time went. How did we get where we are? What happened? We suddenly awake with a jolt and fear envelopes us because we realize we have squandered our life chasing something we will never achieve. Worthy though our dream may have been, we haven’t lived while we were waiting; not really. We haven’t taken the time to make the most of each and every moment because we were foolishly waiting for a moment in the future.
I am guilty. I have squandered my time. Always looking for tomorrow. When I would be healed and whole. When I wouldn’t be rejected and unwanted…because I would have a partner who loved me, who I loved. When I would have a good job that provided meaningful work, where I fit and could make a difference. When I would have purpose and fulfillment. When I would have a nice house in a warm climate, preferably by the beach. When I would have enough money to retire. When I could write that book because I would finally have a proper, inspiring ending to the story. I have let my minutes and seconds and hours and days and years fall through my fingers without even recognizing they were going…and gone. I have lost my life to waiting. Waiting for a time, a day, a dream. Waiting. Always waiting. Until it was too late.
Don’t make my mistake. Each moment is a treasure. Treat it accordingly. Hold it tightly in your hand and milk it for everything it is worth. Make memories you can replay when you are old. Don’t ever stop making memories. Grab each minute and make it count. This, at least, will give my empty life some meaning, if I can give you an example of what not to do. If you can learn from what I have done wrong and find a way to truly, fully, wholly live.
I urge you. Plead with you. Don’t wait! Live. Each. Second. Grab every moment. Make every minute count.