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.
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.