Worry, Waiting, and the Present

“So the day became one of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin:   moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and the moments one was currently disregarding.” –Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

I have talked a lot on this blog about trying to be present and the practice of mindfulness, generally because it is so difficult for me to do. I am a worrier. I had a recent experience with my therapist where I launched into an anxiety-tirade about shopping primarily because we had five minutes left. She saw right through me, however, and basically said, “Get over it; I think you’re just worrying because that’s what you do.” She stopped me in my tracks.

But when I look at that last paragraph, it says twice overtly that I am a worrier, and it implies the same throughout. When I really think about my life for the past couple of months, I haven’t really worried about much. Sure, I have felt insecure, and I have felt nervous about whether or not today’s mail would include a thin rejection letter, but I have also felt elation at being put on a wait list for a school, love for my friends and family, and awe at spring rising up around me.

Worry is something different. It’s that constant turning of a thought in my mind, over and over, snowballing. It’s the opposite of what happens to sea glass: the thought becomes sharper with every turn and cuts just a little bit more; death by a thousand slices. And I am just not doing that all the time anymore.

Sure, there is the hour before I go to work, when the radio is droning and the hair dryer drowns it out to mumbles and my heart rate accelerates. Then I have to sit down and meditate for 5-10 minutes before I can face the work day. But I truly think that this is because I would rather be at home reading a book than talking to guests on the other side of a bar for 6 hours. It’s good for me to get out there and flex my extrovert muscle, but it causes anxiety too.

So now where I find myself is waiting, in so many forms. I wait tables, I am on a wait list, and I am waiting for a summer teaching job to begin in June. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, waiting is a sin against the present (I don’t think he was talking about waiting tables, but sometimes it feels that way), only because we spend so much of our time thinking about what will happen and what life could or should be like that we forget to look around us.

Yesterday, this iris was just a bud, and today it’s blooming. Is there anything new you saw today that you might have missed if you were waiting for something else to happen?

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2 responses to “Worry, Waiting, and the Present

  1. Pingback: digging through the clutter. | One Month and More in Manhattan·

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