What are YOU waiting for?

I came across this mural on the side of the Southbank Centre near Waterloo the other day:


The Southbank Centre says this about Sam Durant’s artwork:

The handwritten text originates from a placard used in the 1963 March on Washington, a landmark event of the American Civil Rights movement.

Removed from its original context, the laconic phrase is open to interpretation. It might speak to a multitude of personal or political situations, as well as to the frustration of commuters at the nearby bus stop, and to the imminent reopening of Hayward Gallery after a two-year period of renovation. – source

That multitude of possible interpretations shows us that waiting is an ineluctable part of life.

Some things we really need to wait for, like marriage and parenthood and other responsibilities that depend on particular maturity levels and life circumstances – this is good waiting. In these cases, patience is a virtue – all in good time!

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. – source

But how often, while waiting for something that will only come in its own good time, do we sit around like the characters in Waiting for Godot, tapping our feet and making small talk, wishing away the present moment?

I’m reminded of one of my literary heroines, Anne of Green Gables (!), who had to wait three years to marry the man she loved because he was still in medical school. Her view on this?

We’ll just be happy, waiting and working for each other – and dreaming.

Indeed, instead of languishing away she went to teach in a school, changed people’s lives with her sunny demeanour, saved money and planned for their future. She used her time profitably.

But there’s another type of waiting – you guessed it, bad waiting.

How often do we think like this?

  • (Me, as a teenager:) When I’m 18, I’ll do this
  • When I have a job, I’ll do that
  • When I get a pay rise, I’ll do the other
  • When I have more time, I’ll write that book
  • When I retire, I’ll read the entire oeuvre of Proust

So often, we make excuses not to do things. If you fully intend to do something, something you really want to do, why wait? You will probably never have enough time, money, security, mental energy, or whatever else it is. It will never be the perfect moment to have another child, start a business, pursue a new hobby, or a million other things. You will never tee everything up. You will never have all your ducks in order. Besides, ‘I’ll start giving money to charity once I hit 30k’ soon becomes ‘oh I can’t right now, I’ll do it when I hit 35k’ … Waiting can easily become an excuse not to act.

Don’t be that person who complains they’re tired of waiting! Wait productively or don’t wait at all. 😊


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