Short Essay: The Pain of Waiting

Dave Hood

“We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” ―Voltaire

Waiting is about expecting something to happen.

Waiting can be like someone we dislike who challenges our patience and threatens our peace of mind.

Sometimes one waits for the rain to stop or the snow storm to subside before venturing out. And so, waiting becomes a day dream or a stream of consciousness, resulting in wasted time, lost forever.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “How much of human life is lost in waiting.” It seems that we spend many of our conscious hours, when not in bed asleep, waiting for something to happen. And while we wait, we endure pain, such as frustration or loss of inner peace.

There are countless situations that force us to wait.
A young, pregnant woman, anxious and exhausted, waits in her home for the trip to the hospital,
for the birth of the baby, she hopes will be healthy.

A teenage woman, lonely and yearning for love, who she imagines her soul mate, waits eagerly for a young man, to call and take her on a date.

A sea of commuters, driving in various models of automobiles, after a long, stressful day of work, wait in bumper to bumper traffic, while traveling to some place of sustenance, where there is peace and quiet.

A middle-aged man or woman, unemployed for ten months and single, with an empty bank account and wallet, imagining he or she will become like the homeless on the street, waits for the employer to call with a job offer.

Many wait for medical tests and then wait for the results, hoping for good news. Those sick, diagnosed with various types of cancer, feeling a sense of dread and loss of control, wait and hope the chemo will fend off the life-threatening disease that invaded their bodies and tormented their souls.

Students, graduating from high school, feeling a sense of dread, yet dreaming of success, wait for test results, for final grades, for news that they’ve been accepted at college, where they’ll work on achieving their dreams.

Those suffering depression or other mental illness wait for therapy and medication to
Relieve them from mental pain, suffering, misery of existence.

Many wait in long lines, often lost in thought, to board a bus or train or subway, to pay for our groceries, to deposit money or pay bills at the bank, to visit the doctor at the clinic.

After misfortune, such flood in the basement, a traffic accident that’s a writes off the new automobile, a fall that breaks a leg, the victims must wait for the repair and endure the ills of inconvenience.

A retired man waits impatiently for the morning paper to read, a distraction from the boredom of routine, perhaps he desires to read the review by the film critic, then wait in line at the cinema to purchase a ticket to escape life’s reality for a couple of hours of fictional entertainment.

Lying in bed in a nursing home, the elderly, who are bed-ridden and melancholy, forgotten by younger family, ignored by the nursing staff, often wait for death to take them from their misery.

Sometimes, we witness others become unhinged, as if lunatics in the asylum, forced to endure the waiting. Sometimes, while waiting, we, ourselves, become unglued like those we’ve observed. We loose our patience, loose our sense of calm, loose our peace of mind—and then unravel.

Those wise souls who are calm and spiritual, living in the moment, experience with their senses the reality of now, like a Buddhist monk. They know that watching each moment pass is a distraction from the boredom of waiting for something to happen. They realize that patience is the remedy for waiting, enabling them to endure life’s uncontrollable frustrations. They have learned that patience is not only a virtue but wisdom that extinguishes the smoldering embers of frustration, which poisons the peaceful mind.

About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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