You’ve heard it said, “Hurry up and wait!” But learning to wait calmly is an important part of living. In this age of high-speed connections and instantaneous results, it helps to remember that the Mayflower made its historic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean at about two miles per hour. How did those early settlers occupy their time as they were waiting to arrive?
I love the story of a passenger on Britain’s Imperial Airways, a company that pioneered air travel between England and Australia in the mid-1930s. “If you have time to spare, go by air,” was the popular expression of the day. Airliners were both slow and incapable of flying long distances.
One of the very first flights took off from Croydon Airport near London and flew to northern France where it was delayed extensively due to bad weather. When it arrived in the south of France, one of the motors had failed and it was necessary to wait for another engine to be shipped by sea from England. There were further lengthy delays along the route in Rome, Cairo, the Middle East, etc., until finally the flight had progressed as far as Singapore.
At this point a lady passenger asked the manager in Singapore if he thought the flight would arrive in Australia in the next few weeks because she was expecting a baby shortly.
“My dear lady,” he replied, “you should never have commenced your trip in that condition.”
She replied, “I didn’t.”
We all know about unexpected delays. According to a Timex survey, human beings spend approximately six months of their lives waiting in line for things and about 43 days on telephone hold. Not to mention waiting in doctor’s offices, airport security lines and heavy traffic. Those who take the bus will wait about 27 days of their lives waiting around on the platform or at the bus stop. The list goes on.
Next time you miss a flight, get stuck in traffic or find yourself waiting on hold for customer service, it can be a good time to hurry up and be patient. The sooner you’re patient, the easier your life will become. When you’re patient you can relax and enjoy the ride.
There is great benefit in learning to wait calmly and creatively. Here is a checklist to test your waiting skills:
- Do you expect delays, or do they catch you unawares? Do you anticipate those times when you are likely to have to wait?
- Do you calmly let your inner motor idle though others around you may be stripping their gears? Do you practice calmness and inner peace?
- Do you welcome unexpected delays as a gift of time, which can be used creatively?
- Do you prepare for delays? Do you have work or entertainment handy when forced to wait? Or do you use the free time to plan ahead or quietly meditate (to get in touch with your soul)?
How did you do with the exercise? Are you making the most of your waiting time?
Author Joyce Meyer has the right of it when she says, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.”
Behave as if you might enjoy it and, well, you might.
-- Steve Goodier
Image: flickr.com/Amanda AmiGdalo