In defense of not waiting

Cliff jumping in Busan, South Korea circa 1993.

Cliff jumping in Busan, South Korea circa 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Warning:  inspirational thoughts ahead!

I got stuck in line in the store the other day, waiting to check out.  I always think it’s a little funny to look around at everyone’s purchases and wonder what’s going on in their lives that led them to select a baby bottle, a pair of spaghetti tongs, and a phillips-head screwdriver for their purchases that day.  Of course, I’m usually holding something like a coin-sorter, a pack of pens, and an extra-large energy drink, so who am I to talk?

Then I went home and cooked a meal on the stove.  This is rare for me.  I’m a microwave girl.  I can estimate microwave times like my mother’s mother could estimate how much sugar to include in a recipe; I just know, without really knowing how I know.  I don’t need the back of the box to tell me.  So the whole stove thing was taking way too long for my post-modern impatience.  “Patience is a virtue,” I reminded myself, just like I did while I was waiting in that interminable line in the store.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t think patience is always as much a virtue as we seem to think.  I would like to stand up in defense of not waiting.  Most of the good things in my life I have because I grabbed for them before I let myself get scared of trying, or before someone else with more guts got to them first.  My most precious memories are of seizing the moment, even if I didn’t have any particular reason or need to, and getting as much out of life as I could right then, without waiting.  A lot of the time it wouldn’t have made much difference to wait a little longer, but when it does matter, it matters so much.

Because sometimes things happen, and people are taken from us, or opportunities are unexpectedly lost, and if we didn’t go for it before, we’ll never get another chance.  The future is so uncertain in this ever-changing world.  I’m not old, but I’m not young, and here’s what I’ve learned:  if you see something you want, go for it right then.  Don’t wait.  If you think to yourself, “My husband is completely fantastic.  I can’t believe I’m this lucky,” tell him right then.  If there’s a girl you like, or an activity you’ve wanted to try, or a project at work that’s got you scared but intrigued, go all out after it (or her) right then.  Don’t wait.

Skier carving a turn off piste

Something on my blind bucket list (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going blind, very slowly.  I’ve got a whole list of things I want to do before I completely lose my vision.  I’m proud to say that my list isn’t as long as it might be if it weren’t already part of my nature not to wait.  There are things I was able to do years ago that I could never do now, that I’ll never be able to do again.  But I’ve done them.  I don’t have to put them on my list of regrets, because I didn’t wait–I just did them, because I could, because they were there.  It’s one of my rules:  if life leads you up to a great big cliff, don’t wait for a parachute:  just jump.  Right then.  Figure out the parachute on the way down.  Sometimes you’ll go splat, but sometimes you’ll learn to fly.

And if a second register opens up while you’re waiting in line, don’t wait for someone else to get there first.  Elbow that old lady out of the way if you have to!  But, from time to time, it can be worth waiting for a meal cooked in the stove rather than the microwave.  Sometimes, you can wait.

21 thoughts on “In defense of not waiting

  1. Sometimes, waiting too long to do something can also make you too afraid to do it. Sometimes you just have to do things without thinking too many thoughts about what could go wrong (e.g. that old lady might have a black belt in karate). You might think about it so long that the opportunity passes and then you might regret not having taken the chance… and some chances will never come back. Thanks for reminding me.

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  2. First of all, Congrats on the Freshly Pressed distinction. You so deserve it Your writing is brilliant!

    Secondly, I so agree about going for it. Many of the best things that have happened in my life came about because I didn’t hesitate. Reading your post makes me want to share some of those stories. Thank you!

    Cathy

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  3. Wow. Your blog is amazing and inspirational. One of my dearest friends has myopic conditions that can lead to her deterioration of sight. It is apparent to me, however, that your vision of what is truly important in life allows you to see much more clearly than those who wait and take for granted what we need to do for ourselves. May you always share your instruments to help guide us to a better perspective.

    Pink.

    P.S. I’m super delighted to read your amazing reflections. Like digesting a stove cooked meal instead of a microvewaveable one, which admittedly, I still don’t own. 😀

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      • Love your Avatar! It’s definitely difficult to dig deep, but you do it with such finesse and humor! Makes us think about how we are ‘blind’ to our own situations in life. Thank you for your eye-openers. 😀

        Pink.

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  4. Do it all and do it now! I still do things that maybe I shouldn’t, but who cares! No one is going to get out alive and I’m still here. As blind as I am now, in ’92, we had to hike into a lodge at the 8000 foot level in the Sierra’s at 4 AM. No water taxi was running at that hour. It was the Pacific Crest Trail and I did it! Like a goat path! Someone, the next day, was amazed I’d done it. Following the person in front, by the jacket hem, it was sort of a rush, to say the least. I amazed myself and I’d do it again today, if I had access to that lodge! Couldn’t “see” it, but it was truly beautiful–Echo Lake, CA! God’s great creations!

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  5. Thanks for this post! That quote – “if life leads you up to a great big cliff, don’t wait for a parachute: just jump. Right then. Figure out the parachute on the way down. Sometimes you’ll go splat, but sometimes you’ll learn to fly.” – was so brilliant I had to share it on Facebook. Though sometimes patience is necessary – and sometimes you’re in things for the long haul, like with dance or something with all the years of training – other times, you just have to go.

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      • Ha ha, my friends have now started up a conversation about what sort of noise you’d ACTUALLY make if you fell of a cliff… I think they’re enjoying it far too much, and I’m rather worried. All my friends are psychopaths (or writers. Or both…)

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  6. LBG, I’m gone for one weekend and you instantly become famous!! Haha, congrats on being FP’ed. Now you can share your obsession with Johnny Depp with more people!! Haha

    “Most of the good things in my life I have because I grabbed for them before I let myself get scared of trying, or before someone else with more guts got to them first.”

    Totally true by the way. If you want something, you got to go get it. Keep up those great posts! 🙂

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    • Thanks! Yeah, I kind of felt the same way. I was just off running errands, when suddenly…but yes, I can see that this is a way to spread the gospel of Johnny Depp to even more people! You know, someone told me the other day that he looks creepy? Forsooth!

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