As I write, we are waiting for the birth of our second grandbaby. I will admit to a little self-centered wish that he would have arrived today so that we could share a birthday. I also want him to arrive so that we will have some resolution on our daughter’s high-risk pregnancy. However, my self-interest and the reduction of my anxiety are not in the best interest of the little guy we are waiting for. With six weeks left until his original due date, every day he is able to stay on the inside delays, and hopefully shortens, his residency in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
There is no logically supported reason to be wishing for his arrival. Fortunately, my desires and anxieties have little influence on the situation at hand. They do, however, starkly highlight the way that our self-interest and anxiety can influence situations which are not so clearly matters of life and death – though we often act as though they are.
Waiting is not something that we are particular practiced at in our culture. Neither is patience particularly encouraged. Television dramas resolve themselves at the end of the hour while the associated commercials encourage us to acquire all that we want without delay.
We take several risks when we allow our unchecked self-interest and anxiety to drive us to impulsive actions or rushed conclusions. Sometimes we end up settling for a less optimal result simply because it provides an immediate sense of closure and relief. Other times, our minds are hijacked, impeding our thinking. One of the first causalities is often a loss of creativity. An anxious mind is rarely a creative mind.
An additional risk, when we are focused simply on what will be, is the loss of the present moment. Events and relationships that we could be experiencing and appreciating move out of our awareness and are gone forever. We are waiting, waiting, waiting instead of living, living, living.
And so, I remind myself that the relief I will feel when the anxiety of waiting for delivery is over, will be short lived. It will soon be replaced by waiting for discharge from the NICU. Always, there is a new waiting in store.
While, in my life, this current sort of waiting is more acute than most, I am learning once again to take care of where I focus my attention each and every day – to take care that I do not replace the potential for abundant living with simply waiting.