Friday, January 4, 2013

The Wisdom of Waiting


I can think. I can wait. I can fast. –Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse

I’ve only had my word of the year “Wait” for a few days, and I can already tell you that waiting is not such an easy thing to do. Even so, my word has already taught me some valuable lessons.

I’ve used it while meditating to bring my attention back to quiet alertness. I’ve used it to remind myself to listen more and speak less. I’ve used it when poised to do something or say something that, after waiting a moment to take a few breaths, I thought better of.

Just this morning, I was about to call a company that recently provided some services at my house. I was irritated about something and intended to complain. Instead, I waited until after I had a cup of tea. I wrote an email to the company and rather than complain, I asked questions about what I was concerned about. The company had someone at my house within twenty minutes who looked at what I was concerned about and took care of it immediately, with assurances that they wanted me to be completely satisfied. Wow. My concerns were addressed and everybody felt much better than if I had opened the conversation with a criticism.

Of course, it’s true that I might not have gotten such a good outcome, but regardless of the company’s response, the point is that I was so much happier with the approach I took. And the approach I took was a direct result of waiting before acting on my initial impulse.

In another example, I have been thinking about a decision I need to make. It’s not urgent, but I have been pushing myself to decide just to get the issue resolved. Yesterday, I realized that waiting for more clarity will lead to a better decision. The only urgency is my own impatience. I put it aside.

As a bonus, because I had put it aside, I was able to make a more pressing decision on another matter with much more focus and confidence because my mind was not cluttered with needless distractions.

So although my initial reaction to my word was sort of a disappointed “Really?” I’ve come to see fairly quickly that I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of this humble word. Just “wait” and see.

41 comments:

  1. Your post reminds me, Galen, of the admonition in 12-step halls, "Never pray for patience. You'll only get more situations that test your patience!"

    Wow! You've had quite a busy first few days of the year. Well done! You're learning your lessons so quickly that you'll probably skate through the rest of 2013.

    By the way, did your folks say to you, "We'll see?" A shortened version of "wait and see?" Those two words drove me crazy as a kid. Now I see the wisdom.

    Keep up the momentum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, I love that admonition from 12 steps! It's like the admonition, "Be careful what you wish for!" I had to laugh about your last question. I don't recall hearing that from my folks, but I have used it a LOT as a parent myself. I remember saying "We'll see" once and one of my kids brightened up saying "When she says that, it means yes," while another kid looked disappointed and said, "When she says that, it means no."

      Delete
  2. I agree with you that we make better decisions in life when we wait and have patience. This is a wonderful post Galen and I'll be using it more often now :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. diana, I am going to try to wait at least just a little before making any decisions (any big ones) to see what insight comes into that gap. Thanks for your kind words.

      Delete
  3. Galen, After a little pondering I think "wait" is a paramount word. I thought of the times that I've slept on something and in the morning, whatever it was that riled me, didn't seem important anymore. Yes, I like your word.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Manzanita, Thanks. I am beginning to see that I was much too quick to dismiss it. See, I should have waited before jumping to judgment!

      Delete
  4. I've been reading a lot on blogs about a "word" for this year. I am thinking about it and trying to figure out what my word will be. I like your word.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teri, If you try it, then I hope you will come back and let us know what your word is.

      Delete
  5. Hi its been a while since I visited just like to say thanks for sharing interesting read. Do you happen to know what The Ith-khir is? Come see..

    Take Care

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am reminded of lines from the song "Everlasting God" which we sing in church - "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord . . ." Being able to wait is both a skill and a virtue. It looks like, in your case, it is already working beautifully!
    Love and blessings, Galen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, I am reminded in turn of Isaiah 40:31! We are good reminders for each other!

      Delete
  7. I really like how you use your word and it leads you to deeper awareness.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Galen,
    Love that story - perfect example of waiting isn't it? Whenever I feel myself starting to squirm and wiggle with the whole concept of waiting (which I sure don't do well!) I have to do breathing/meditating to get grounded again. Boy, it's a practice!!! But the outcome, no matter what the circumstances, is always better! I think we ALL need to slow down, don't you?
    Hugs
    SuZen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SuZen, It is a practice indeed. I like the concept of practice because it gives me confidence that if I do practice, I will get better at whatever I'm practicing. Good idea for us all to slow down as the world speeds up. Hugs back to you.

      Delete
  9. I like it, Galen. I do that with a lot of things and make snap decisions very rarely. Not to say I am not a quick decision maker...but the waiting game is a habit. I've learned that spontaneity is great, but instant reactions to situations are not always for the best. :-) Come here, let me give you a big hug. Then I'll make some Darjeeling tea for us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vidya, I can certainly believe that you take things slowly, thoughtfully considering your choices before acting. It's why you exude a sense of joyful serenity. I'd love to get a hug and have some tea with you.

      Delete
  10. Aww, man! Now I'm sorry that I picked out the word Impatience for this year. It's gonna make hard to wait and see all the cool stuff that happens to you!

    You can get hugs and tea from me too, btw. I'm a Lapsang fan, though, myself. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, You are too funny! I'm loving all the offers of hugs and tea. Why don't you and Vidya both come here to Portland? We'd have a great time!

      Delete
    2. Sounds great, but I think you guys should come to MY Portland! Ours came first, after all! :)

      Delete
  11. I think "Wait" is a wonderful word for 2013. I appreciate the insights and wisdom of this terrific post, Galen! It is giving me much to think about!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen, Thanks for your kind words.

      Delete
  12. It's wonderful how many times you've already seen the value of "wait." It's amazing how waiting can sometimes change the whole vibe of a situation, like your concern about the services provided in your home. I can see that I'm going to learn a lot from your expereiences with your word for the year. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tina, If the first days of the year are any indication, I'm going to be learning a heck of a lot this year from my word. That's great if you to, too!

      Delete
  13. Actually a few years ago I thought about how much I am always waiting. This is a great word to ponder on. I wrote a piece of poetry about different situations where I was waiting. I guess I look at waiting a little different now than I used too. I used to wait impatiently and now I try to fill my waiting moments with something else like journaling, reading a good book and etc. These are time fillers but at least I am doing something instead of just sitting and waiting. Of course there are many example for the word wait. I enjoy your thoughts on your word for the year.
    Blessings to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LeAnn, I did something similar when I found myself spending lots of time waiting in the car for my kids. I had crossword puzzles and short things to read. I also took small quilt pieces to sew together during long meetings. Then I never worried about whether I was wasting my time!

      Delete
  14. Thank you for this post - this is so what I needed to hear right now. When you first mentioned "wait" as your intention word for 2013 I did not quite get it but now I do. I can so relate to what you are saying in this post. I also have things on my mind that I pressure myself to decide on but I think I will take your advice and wait on them.

    www.KaylinLydia.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaylin, I didn't get it right away either. I think I'm going to be learning about it as I go along. Hope it helps you, too.

      Delete
  15. Galen: You have learned to walk the walk. That should be everyone's goal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JJ, I can see that I'm going to have many opportunities to walk the walk this year!

      Delete
  16. Hi Galen,
    I tried to write on your post several times this weekend from my cell phone and it would not allow me post it - will try again now.
    What I was trying to say yesterday, is that I do think waiting is an Art form and thus it is included in the Essene calendars and many other religious group doctrine. Many of us celebrated the waiting season of Advent by being very busy and distracted - when we could have found focus.

    I am going to print off your post and share it with the folks in my Epiphany Workshop this afternoon....I will refer them to your site for further reference...What a powerful word/concept you have given yourself this year - I so appreciate your words

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia, Thanks for your persistence! I had not thought of waiting as a spiritual practice until someone commented on the last post about the Trappist focus on waiting. And I'm finding some lovely Bible passages about waiting. Thank you so much for sharing the link, and for your kind words.

      Delete
  17. You are practicing what you preach in every sense! I swear there is nothing more healing than good customer service. It just makes us feel so worthy, I guess that is the key- feeling worthy. Hmmm. Goes with what I know. That's interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jodi, I did feel very good about the response I got, but I tried to remind myself that the waiting before complaining was a good practice whether I got good service or not. You are right that I felt heard and respected by their response.

      Delete
  18. I'm impressed with this word and how wonderfully it's working for you! Thanks for telling us all these stories of how it's manifesting so positively.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow Galen, you sure work your word! ;-) I liked the admonition that Beth shared, "Never pray for patience. You'll only get more situations that test your patience!" and you asked for it!
    I'm glad I chose Joy, Flow, Intuition, Abundance and Fearless. They, too, are beginning to serve me well!
    :-)
    Lori

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori, Yes, I like that to. Be careful what you ask for! You have a treasure trove of words to serve you this year. What fun to see how they play in your life.

      Delete
  20. I like your chosen word. It is not quite what I would typically expect from others. But with your explanation, it makes perfect sense to me. Like many others, I have to make plenty of decisions almost every day. I have observed that some of the decisions to be made are stressful only because I have not gained sufficient clarity. I have to allow for the unfolding of time to reveal enough in order to make a better decision.

    So great choice of your word indeed!! I wish you much love and happiness in the new year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evelyn, Yes, the word surprised me, too. I've learned so much from my word already. It's going to be a busy year!

      Delete

Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.