My oldest son came over the other night. He’s at a crossroads in life and trying to figure out the best route to take. Not one to be caught up in the machine like his dad and many others from my generation, he’s trying to figure out his own unique, fulfilling path.
And he’s ticked.
We talked about the things he thinks he wants to do, the things he thinks he wants to be. But we also talked about why all of this seems to be taking so long. The uncertainty of it is really taking its toll, and he’s tired of waiting.
“What are you waiting for?” I asked. My question was met with a blank stare.
“Waiting to get started or waiting for something to start?”
Another blank stare.
This father-son conversation was about to get deep. So, I poured us both a bourbon for this mental joyride we were about to take.
We went back and forth about all this time he believes he’s wasting. I tried hard not to pontificate about how I wish I was 24 again because, of course, I have all the answers now.
At about the same time the ice cubes started to rattle at the bottom of our empty glasses, we came to the realization that he really isn’t even sure what he’s waiting for. Just that he wants to be whatever he’s supposed to be. Wherever he’s supposed to be.
And he wants it all now. Not . . . whenever it’s supposed to be.
So, we talked about the waiting. And why it’s so frustrating.
In this world of instant gratification where we have information at our fingertips and can complete many of our daily tasks with a touch or a swipe, why does it seem like we’re always waiting for something?
We wait for the water to boil. We wait for the mail to come. We wait for that project to finish. We wait for the kids to stop crying. We wait for the light to change. We wait for school to end. We wait for the week of vacation to get here. We wait for the flight to take off. We wait for the flight to land. We wait to get a text back. We wait to have that first kiss. We wait for . . . you get the picture.
We’re waiting for the waiting to end.
In Spanish, the word esperar means “to wait.” To stay where one is. To pause. To delay. To hold back. To stop. To twiddle one’s thumbs.
No wonder we’re all so frustrated. Esperar-ing sucks.
But esperar has another meaning—”to hope.” A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Longing. Yearning. Craving.
Wow! I regret not paying better attention in Spanish class.
I continued to talk with my son about how I also can find myself frustrated with waiting for something to happen in both my personal and professional life—it’s not easy to start over at the midpoint. But there’s also a lot of excitement. An excitement that I haven’t had in a very long time. An excitement that lifts me up and gets me going. A longing, yearning, and craving that makes the waiting seem much more palatable.
We talked about enjoying the time he’s spending in the pursuit of his promised land.
The excitement of knowing that during the time he’s spending waiting, he’s learning and discovering more about himself and molding the future self he’ll be.
I poured another bourbon for both of us (he was going to sleep over so it was OK). We wondered if we’d just stumbled upon the answer to my question.
While he may not know exactly what he’s waiting for, whatever it is, his promised land is most likely going to turn out to be exactly what he’s waiting for.
And waiting doesn’t seem so hard anymore.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.