10 Ways We Spend Our Lives Waiting
Milestones and moments in life are leading towards time to do more
As one of the 76 million people comprising the boomer generation, I find myself luxuriating in time I never had before. I am also proud to report I hold another title, that of a newly retired person of which we are nearly 42.5 million people, growing strong.
Feeling unencumbered, with more time since retirement, I luxuriate in completing tasks without competing with the clock. I can sit back, sipping my morning coffee without a care in the world. During one of these sober moments, I had a wake-up call. Consciously or not, I think we spend an inordinate amount of life’s precious time waiting.
What Are We Waiting For?
From the day we are born, to the major milestones of our lives, we are always waiting for what's next and what might need to be done:
1. We wait patiently in a protective cocoon for nine months, entering a world driven by time. As infants, our mothers mark our milestones waiting for us to develop in accordance with norms. If we fall behind, we catch up.
2. We recognize early in life that educational modalities, pre-K or otherwise, are tied to waiting lists. Many of us hope we are chosen for the best schools, the best teams, and aren’t the ones left behind. We wait to be asked to the right party; we wait for the cool group to consider us worthy to join. We wait for that special envelope, desperate to be accepted to a college determining our fate, thinking we will die without it. If not picked by the college of our choice, we accept the waiting list from a lesser college, hoping for the best. We hope we rush the preferred sorority or fraternity, or at the very least, one worth waiting for.
3. We wait to obtain the “all important” job interview. After sitting for two hours in a waiting room, the employer advises us we lack the necessary experience to qualify. He says: “Perhaps next time, you might consider….” We wait for another opportunity to come our way.
4. We search on our phones to see if our texts are acknowledged, to see if our Instagram has been “liked.” We wait online to see who has “friended” us. We wait and hope, searching Tinder or Bumble to see we are not overlooked. As we reach our mating years, we hope that we find someone with whom to share our lives. We wait with hope that the object of our love will not reject our affections. We wait to find the perfect mate, then we keep waiting until we choose the right moment in which to marry.
5. We wait for trains, subways, buses and planes. Sometimes we miss them, then wait longer for the next ones to come.
6. We wait for doctors, dentists and therapists, being told in some oddly ridiculous, professional way that their time is more valuable than our own. We wait for pain medication to quickly take effect for our headache, backache or gastric distress — partly because we abhor discomfort — but partly, because we hate to wait for relief.
7. We wait for that special table at that special restaurant our entire circle of friends keeps raving about. And even with reservations, we wait some more.
8. We wait to begin a family, postponing the obligations of caring for someone other than ourselves. Sometimes we wait too long, resorting to other ways to be a parent, such as adopting, waiting longer even still.
9. We wait desperately for our next day off from work, especially delighting in the two weeks’ vacation a year many employers provide. When Friday approaches and the workweek ends, we can’t wait for the weekend to start.
10. We look at our calendars, circling events, waiting to enjoy special birthdays, anniversaries and affairs. Time cannot pass fast enough. We wait, based upon our age, calculating on paper how long before Social Security benefits kick in, strategically manipulating how many more years before retirement is real.
Time Remaining to Do More
Well, for me, retirement is now real. I have paid my dues. As a retired nurse, I look forward to drawing on my accrued benefits this year.
Having watched other retired people precede me, I see most of them are not waiting. They are not sitting at home, roaming aimlessly through an empty house.
They are active members of their community, volunteering or engaging in part-time jobs. They are mentors to the young, where their professional prowess in business or engineering is shared. They are engaging in social events, traveling in groups, ensuring they are not alone. They do not permit physical limitations to alter their course. They walk with assistive devices, not limited to where their travels will take them.
They are an empowered lot, brimming with knowledge and life experiences they are open and willing to share. They will not be dictated by a birth year; they defy their age. Even with limitations, they wish to be looked upon with value.
They are not waiting to die. In fact, some might argue their bucket list is overflowing. They have miles to walk before they sleep…and so do I.