This week, Sally talks about how much waiting sucks (it really does), and why we shouldn't let life turn us into miserable robots...
Waiting sucks. And I don’t mean it ‘kinda, sorta sucks if you take a moment to really think about it and assess how much more you could be doing with your time. I mean it SUCKS majorly and all the time!
Life is an amazing thing. It has its ups and downs, of course. And it can make you want to go all Scarface on it sometimes, particularly if you find yourself surrounded by people who make the Dementors from Harry Potter seem like the Teletubbies. But still, it is pretty damn remarkable. It is vivid, it is mind-boggling and it is beyond our comprehension for the most part. There are so many different things to be experienced, so many people to meet and so many horizons to explore.
It is a world of opportunity.
And yet, for some reason we spend most of our pitiful lives waiting. Waiting for breakthroughs, waiting for true love, waiting for a miracle, waiting to menstruate ….waiting, waiting, bloody waiting (no pun intended) away our lives!
I recently read a quote by Oscar Wilde – the man who I’ve had a love affair with in my head since I first picked up a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray and whose babies I would’ve had if a) he had not died in 1900, and b) he had not been a homosexual – and, as usual, what he had to say blew me away completely…
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde
When I read that genius reflection, a sequence of faces went off in my mind’s eye, like a film reel stuck on fast-forward. I saw family, friends, neighbours, enemies, co-workers, leaders, role models; their faces a strange collage moving faster and faster until they all became a blur and then the empty film of my mind rolled itself into a knot. (My subconscious is a drama queen as well).
I don’t know about you, but I know so many people who wake up every morning on autopilot. They go through the motions. They brush their teeth, shower, have breakfast, curse at everything in sight whilst stuck in traffic, get to work, attend meetings, go to lunch, pray for the day to end, get in the car, curse at everything in sight whilst stuck in traffic, get home, have dinner, watch TV, have sex (if that’s an option) and go to sleep only to wake up the next morning to do it all over again. And they do that every day of their lives!
Now here’s the deal: if that makes you happy, then fair enough! I get it… you’ve found a system that gives you joy. That much I can respect. However, the truth is, I simply cannot count the amount of times I’ve seen people habitually do things whilst looking as miserable as death.
And of course, being me and not wanting to jump to any conclusions – even though I should’ve gotten an award for being the annoying declarer of the frisking obvious – I’ve often pursued it further. I’ve asked people in the middle of their inane and seemingly pointless routines (like busily walking around in circles trying to get their bowels to work whilst focusing painfully on what I can only assume is their feeling of constipation, not realizing that the issue is wholly psychological) what I’ve often felt is a very pertinent (and fucking obvious) question that doesn’t get asked enough: “ARE YOU HAPPY?”
Nine times out of 10, the answer I’ve received, as I’m sure you can guess, is no. And it wasn’t just from the constipated person walking around in circles like a goldfish frantically swimming round in its bowl adamant that it’s going somewhere.
There’s the friend who’s given up on his dreams because the rent needs paying. There’s the family member who doesn’t brush her hair anymore because she’s too busy seeing to her household. There’s the married couple who communicate more via BlackBerry Messenger and What’s App than they do face-to-face.
These are all people who are too busy finding new ways to survive from one day to the next without really living. They are waiting…
They’re waiting for later or tomorrow for things to get better. Tomorrow, they’ll be well-rested enough to finally make that call or send that email or pursue that goal. Tomorrow, they’ll have the guts to hand in their resignation. Tomorrow, they’ll get their big break and won’t have to worry about their finances. Tomorrow, they’ll say I love you. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
I think Madonna probably put it best when she sang, Time goes by so slowly for those who wait.
The reality is that although time may feel like it’s going by slowly when you’re waiting, I hate to break it to you but I’m not the only BITCH in town: TIME is the biggest bitch of all! And I know we’ve all heard that awful cliché before and it seems cheesy to even try and tackle this issue (after all, just stick in a copy of Robin Williams’ Dead Poets Society and he’ll make you want to Carpe Diem the crap out life), but here’s why I think we consistently need to be reminded of the fact that time is unkind:
Humans are fucking stupid! We are! It’s true! We think we’re so developed, so modern and so forward thinking, but we are all, for the most part, goldfish swimming around in circles trying to get places. We spend our lives waiting for the ‘right time’, not realising that time waits for no one. In this, there is no discrimination. We are so fucking stupid, the film Dumb &Dumber should’ve been nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars.
And before I get the hate-mail, I just want to take a moment to say that I’m at the front of the line. I am the leader of dumbass brigade! Believe me, I need to practice Carpe Diem just as vehemently as I am preaching it. But just like everyone (yes, you too, person frowning at your screen in disagreement), I have my routines.
I wake up at a certain time, I have my coffee, I curse at everything in sight under my breath on my way to work, I do my job, I go home, I sleep on my couch for a few hours, I wake up and watch hours of either Grey’s Anatomy or E!TV, I don’t have sex (oh yeah…it’s a ritual) and then I go to sleep, only to do the same thing all over again the next day.
And by the same token, I am (and I’m not just saying this) one of the most ambitious people you will ever meet! My bucket list is not a list; it’s a novel. Also, I completely intend on doing something spectacular in my lifetime…i.e. changing the world and to top it all off, I know I have the balls to say whatever I want, whenever I want, and to whoever I want. And the best part of it, is that I do it with a smile. What I’m trying to say is that my biggest setback, like so many others, is not that I am lacking in skill. Rather, I am lacking in willpower and perspective.
I, sometimes, try to see us the way God must see us as we throw away the time He’s given us being angry or being lazy or being ungrateful or maybe worst of all, being thoroughly terrified and I wonder why God didn’t throw in the towel, when it came to humanity, a long time ago.
Faith and religion, of course, have all sorts of explanations for this, but I’m not here to get theological. I’m just trying to point out the obvious: we need to STOP VOLUNTARILY WAITING FOR SHIT TO HAPPEN WHEN WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN OURSELVES.
Granted, in life, there are periods of time, we need to wait. Waiting, in certain situations, is inevitable and can be imperative when it comes to developing a vision, learning the importance of perseverance, having your faith tested and acquiring a tenacity to get you through everything. However, I’ve often found that even if we are forced to wait in one area of our lives, there is always an opportunity for us to further ourselves in another domain.
Even though we sometimes want to convince ourselves of the opposite, life is never ever really stagnant. It’s just a matter of perspective. And WAITING sucks! It sucks enough when circumstances are out of our control and all we can do is wait. But waiting when you should be doing is, in fact, a blatant waste of time and of energy and most of all, of life.
I recently read an article in Forbes about the 25 Most Common Regrets that people have at the end of their lives, and I saw the blur of faces on the film reel in my head again. The regrets I read were so generic: I wish I had spent more time with my kids, I wish I had spent less time at work and more with my family, I wish I had the guts to go after that individual I let get away, I wish I had stood up for myself, I wish I had pursued my dream job… I wish, I wish, I wish. Those regrets could apply to practically anyone. And I could see it applying to the blur of faces in my mind.
Every regret started with ‘I wish…’
We don’t need to ‘wish’ anything so long as we’re alive. We have the chance to live a life of no regrets, with Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ (No, I Don’t Regret Anything) blasting in the background, being the musical score of our triumphs.
I don’t want to be one out of a blur of faces. I don’t want to be a goldfish swimming around my little tank, dreaming away my life. I don’t want to regret not having lived my life.
So I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided that I’m done with waiting. And, in order for that to work, I know it’s not going to be a one-off decision (since we’ve established that humans are mostly retarded), but something I’m going to have to remind myself of every day, if not every hour.
I leave it to good ol’ Barack to wrap things up eloquently and to sum up nicely what I, and thousands if not millions of others, have tried to convey over the course of human history to a race that gets too comfortable until it is too late.
My point is made. Enough said.