Did I mention I bought some goats (before the hay)?
In the classic Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, there’s a page about one of the places we often end up in: The Waiting Place.
Here you’ll find a brilliant description of a place some of us stay in for too long, a place where everyone is simply waiting, waiting for something, for anything, for “Another Chance.” Dr. Seuss capitalizes Another Chance and rightly so. He also capitalizes “Yes or No,” which you may find yourself waiting for. Waiting for that all important Yes. Waiting for that final NO. Or less dramatically, he mentions waiting for your “hair to grow.”
There’s a lot of waiting. We often wait for tomorrow, but as the incomparable Tao Porchon-Lynch, master yoga teacher who lived 101 years, often said: “Tomorrow never comes.”
The pandemic has been, for many, like taking a seat at the RMV (remember when we did that in person! Remember what that felt like?). You have a number but your number will never be called. You’ll probably die there on that hard plastic seat waiting to register your car. Meanwhile, the world keeps going on. People keep doing things. Hence the new acronym: FOMO (fear of missing out).
I had a yoga student come to me many years ago. She had cut out the listing for my classes from the local newspaper and there it sat on her desk for 27 weeks. 27 weeks! On the 28th week, she came to class. That seems laughable to us but I can guarantee you there is something you have been waiting for for 27 weeks! Some people says things to themselves like: I’ll do that when I’m thin. I’ll do that when I have more money. I’ll do that when I have more time. I’ll do that when I have my ducks in a row. I’ll do that after I get married…the kids grow up…I get another job…I don’t feel so tired. Can you recognize yourself in any of these words?
We’ve waited many more than 27 weeks to do certain things in our lives. And some things we are still waiting for. We are waiting for the world to be a better place. We are waiting until the time feels right. We are waiting until the political environment changes. We are waiting until we have healed from our childhood.
You know it makes me think of myself, of saying, “I’ll do that when I’ve got the house clean.” Here’s the thing about my house. It doesn’t stay clean! As soon as it’s clean, it gets messy again. That’s because people live here. And a lot of them don’t clean up after themselves. I always love the thought of a clean kitchen. The person I knew who had the cleanest kitchen never cooked. That’s a good way to have a clean kitchen! But if we’re cooking, if we’re living, then disruption and movement and mess is the constant state.
There truly is no other time. That always seems like such a spiritual perspective but I can’t think of anything more pragmatic. Needing the patience or strength or courage to do something can and does take time. However, for so many things in our lives, we actually could simply leave the waiting place and DO what we long to do, or BE who we long to be, or make happen what we long to make happen.
The other alternative is to let go of the things we are telling ourselves we really want to do. “I really want to sit down and have a cup of tea and relax.” Well, I must NOT really want to do that because I’m busy doing other things that I see as more important. And when it’s truly important for me to sit and have a cup of tea, I will.
What are some things in your life you have put off by being in the waiting place? I know that many want to come to yoga or start yoga but they are waiting. They are waiting for a magical new body. They are waiting to have more time. They are waiting for the right pair of yoga pants.
The truth of our lives is that those things aren’t going to happen. We have the time we have, right now. We don’t round a bend and find there is more. The magical new body will not arrive at our doorstep. We have the body we have. And maybe it will change, but that will be AFTER, and not before.
Recently, I got three goats for my daughter for her birthday–before getting a goat shed, a fence, hay, or really knowing all that much about goats. We have been talking about getting goats for years, so this did not come out of nowhere. But I certainly did carpe goatem by showing up at her bus stop with two goats on leashes.
The pandemic, for some, has intensified and propelled a movement out of the waiting space. For some, it has entrapped and ensnared into a place of immobilization. For all of us there is the chance to fulfill what we long for. Right now. In as much as we are able in this moment in time, we can incarnate the version of ourselves we long to be. I’d love to say that with enough therapy, your rough childhood will never bother you. Or with enough yoga, you will never ache or be sore. Or with enough money, you will never feel poor. But we all know that none of those things are true. Which is way waiting for any of those things to change keeps us focused on an illusion.
Life may or may not change. But WE can change.
There is something that you want, that you have longed for, that you can bring into your life, and right now is the moment. There isn’t a better moment than this one. This is it. Hand-delivered. Yours for the taking. Tell me how it goes!
So many gems here! An amazing piece of writing. And I love the alternate, which is just as true: “The other alternative is to let go of the things we are telling ourselves we really want to do.” (if you never get around to doing them…) Also a wise concept I am trying to be aware of. Thank you Sam!
It’s such an interesting thing we do–telling ourselves we want to do things we never do. I wonder what is behind it? I’m sure it’s different in ever instance but could be an interesting meditation.