"Good things come to those that wait." It is an interesting statement to ponder. On one level it can help us define our goals and get us started toward meeting them. But more often, it's a sort of criticism, along the lines of "Isn't it time to get moving??!!" or: "Can't you see the opportunity is slipping away??!!"
We do spend a lot of time waiting, though. But like everything else, it's relative.
I was Googling something or other the other day and my computer took FOREVER, I'll bet it was close to 15 seconds! I don't have that kind of time to waste waiting! (Never mind that before computers, that would have required a drive to the library, searching the card catalog and the stacks, copying the information all for a small fraction of the info I received after that L-O-N-G 15 second wait.) Then the angst was gone, I found the info I needed, and life was back on track. Funny, looking back, how frustrating that "wait" was.
During the Conewango Avenue reconstruction, a 10 minute delay seemed interminable. Contrast that to the time I visited a customer in southern Wisconsin on a Friday afternoon and hit rush hour traffic on a beltway around Chicago. Made about 25 miles in about 2 hours. Averaged about 10 miles an hour for two hours. A 10 minute wait? A piece of cake now. In fact, sometimes a bonus; a few more favorite tunes from my CD collection, maybe a few more great stories on NPR.
In a recent column I mentioned the value of mentors. One I didn't mention is the gentlemen from whom I take waiting lessons. You probably didn't know there were such things but there are experts in every field and if we seek them out we can learn. (When the student is ready, the teacher will come read that somewhere)
This particular gentleman is active in our church, mostly behind the scenes. Others in his family, though, are well, it would be inaccurate to say CAUSING scenes..., but they are the prime movers in a great many projects because they really know how to get things done. Virtually every Sunday, they are planning events, lining up volunteers, decorating or setting up for something, or tearing down something, or adjusting something, and they are always among the last ones to leave. And my mentor, he waits.
My wife retired a few years ago and is now making up for all the times she had to say "Sorry, no, I'll be working." Now we're always among the last to leave. And me, I wait.
So, it was natural to wait with my waiting mentor. He never gets upset. He never runs around looking for people, he never looks at his watch. He is the personification of patience. For the longest time, I envied him as I paced back and forth anxious to get on with whatever. I got frazzled, he didn't. Finally, I asked him the secret to his success and his answer was simple: "It's no big deal, it turns out fine, just wait and see." And he was right.
And I hasten to add that I didn't simply get used to it. There was no profound intellectual analysis of the situation that led to a solution nor was there some kind of deep-down-inside misery-laden resolve that I was stuck with this fate. What I realized, and what my waiting mentor had already learned, was when our family members materialized, they had big smiles on their faces, would sort of clap their hands together, and would say, sometimes in unison: "Well that's done!" They were happy and felt some sense of accomplishment and service; they felt good. As my friend suggested, it's not a big deal to wait and as a matter of fact, it's a bonus having contented, happy, satisfied people around!
As some other wise person once said: "Good things come to those who wait." That's true more often than you might think. Just wait and see.
Gary Lester, M.S., is the executive director of Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that helps people solve problems and be happier through counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. Learn more about this important work at www.fswc.org.