Putting on some wait

I’m generally patient over the long term, but I can be impatient in the short term. But, really, what’s the rush? Why the hurry? I’ve been asking myself this question more and more lately.

A new year is a good excuse to make a change, so in 2019 I’ve decided to put on some wait. In practice this means choosing the slower option whenever possible.

For example, when shopping online, I’m picking the slowest shipping option (I used to always pick the fastest one). Related, I’ve also cancelled my Amazon Prime membership. I only used it for fast shipping, so it’s of no use anymore.

When confronted with two lines at the grocery store, I’m choosing the longer one.

Even small things like waiting for the next walk symbol. Yeah there’s a good 8 seconds to get across the street, but it’s close enough to just wait.

Whenever there’s an opportunity to pick the wait, I’m picking it. And I’m not filling my time with other things I have to do while waiting – I’m genuinely waiting. Waiting while doing nothing. Idling. If I’m in line, and it’s moving slowly, I’m not reflexively reaching for my phone to soak up the dead space. I’m just enjoying having absolutely nothing to do.

In the end, after all this waiting, I suspect I won’t miss anything. I’ll just have waited. In fact, I think I’ll actually find something: Additional, special moments with nothing to do. Sacred emptiness, a space free of obligation and expectation. New time to simply observe.

In a world where everyone seems to be super busy all the time, bumping into more moments with nothing to do seems like a real discovery.


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22 thoughts on “Putting on some wait

  1. Do you think about working or planning while a short waiting? Or just keep nothing to do and think as a short meditation? I would have a try this today.

  2. For some reason this reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite thing about turning sixty years old. Paraphrasing:

    “Whenever somebody says, ‘Oh my gosh, turn around! You won’t believe it, I’ve never seen anything like it!’ I just say, ‘No thanks. I’ve probably already seen it.’ And I just keep walking.”

    You are absolutely right. You won’t miss anything.

  3. I suspect you will see more folks that “need a hand.” The “help” could range from something minor like holding more doors for people who have their hands full (because you are not rushing around yourself) to a new type of help you have never rendered to a person before. You are giving yourself more time to really observe the world around you and then respond. My prediction is you will grow in compassion for people, will experience more joy and sadness, and will likely be moved to make some change happen in response.

    1. I was recently in NYC and (unfortunately) lost my iPhone X in the back of my cab during the drive to the city. I spent an entire week without one. Felt like I unplugged from the Matrix. Walking down the street present to everyone, in lines without a device, elevators, etc. Was also not pinged by Slack directly or inadvertently — was wonderful. I think taking the “slow” option is the next level of this. Definitely will take it on.

  4. It’s funny, I’ve been doing something like this for a long time and I didn’t really think about why until I read this. I never use the Drive Thru at Starbucks and restaurants, I always go in. I don’t mind that it takes longer.

    Now that I think about it, maybe it’s because I enjoy the personal experiences so much more. The workers at Starbucks all know me by name. I treat myself to McDonalds breakfast every Friday morning and its always the same folks working there. They recognize me and always give a warm welcome because of that. One time I had to wait a bit longer for my order and the girl behind the counter (who usually takes my order) threw in an extra hash brown without saying a word.

    Waiting can bring unknown benefits and more personal experiences into your life.

  5. I have done this. And it is quite powerful. Especially, when you see a crowded grocery checkout aisle and every counter is busy. You will find most shoppers trying to find the fastest line and see if they can game the system. Something has to be said about not giving a damn about that race and just standing in a line waiting for your turn.

  6. Winning back the moments. I think this could be a valuable insight into thinking deeper about Human-Centric UI/UX design patterns. So much of the world today is about speeding up interactions and transactions. Efficiency and effectiveness are not necessarily the same metric when we are talking about engagement.

  7. A week or so since reading this and I’ve thought of it a few times and it’s helped me appreciate the downtime, the slow moments of life. Thx!

  8. Waiting rooms at the Doctor’s office are the best – I welcome their inability to see me on time. No magazines or screens for me, just a wandering mind.

  9. I love this. It is an easy way to build quiet time into my life. Thank you.

    PS – I’d love to share it with my clients. Giving you the credit naturally. 🙂

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