Waiting For...

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I had a dentist appointment, and I was really looking forward to it.
Not the dentist part...the waiting room part. Last appointment, I had a revelation in that waiting room. Sitting alone in the quiet room, I suddenly realized just how mentally cluttered modern life is. So, despite the magazines and wi-fi, I just sat there doing nothing.

But I wasn't actually doing nothing. I was thinking.

That's something I don't do much anymore. If I find myself with a spare minute, I pull out my phone and keep myself frantically occupied. And it's not that I'm so busy, it's not even that I need to, it's just that I can.

Somehow, all these devices in real-time have taken over down time. Look at the line in the post office or the bank or the supermarket - check out the crowd waiting at the airport - every head is bent over a screen.

But these days, when I'm waiting for something, I leave my phone in my pocket and connect with myself. I've discovered wait time is valuable - to reflect, think about stuff, just let my mind wander. And now, instead of hating waiting, I enjoy it.


I'm as over-scheduled as ever. But lately I view any unexpected time-out as a gift. A small thing, but it's made a big difference. I used to fume waiting in long lines, but now, I'm lining up differently. And the rest of my day seems to line up better, too, since I've mentally reframed waiting. Not an annoying inconvenience, more a luxurious opportunity in this time-starved era, a chance to really think things through, daydream, or just shift my brain to neutral. Waiting may be part of everyone's life, but I've decided it's not a waste a time.  
And, speaking of waiting... I can hardly wait for next week. I'm going to the DMV.
With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches for the San Francisco Unified School District.