What Are You Waiting For?

Julie - Hudsonville, Michigan
Entered on January 23, 2009

My dad drives like a maniac. I don’t know if his dad drove that way and that’s why he possesses the need to disregard everything they teach you in drivers ed, but that’s just the way it is. The fact that we have never been in a car accident is astounding to me, especially considering the atrocious roads in Michigan. I assume it must have something to do with road rage, that, in his eyes, driving our monster van makes him king of the road and gives him free reign to whiz by unsuspecting cars not going eighty miles per hour. Since I do not have a driver’s license, I have never felt that road rage, that desire to blow everything sideways I know my dad must feel when he gets into a car. It must be pretty intense, because my dad has never been able to suppress it. Maybe he doesn’t want to. Maybe he isn’t trying to. All I know is this: my dad waits for no driver, not in action and certainly not in mind.

I believe in patience, the kind of patience that can redirect human thoughts from the many tortures of waiting. When truly patient, a person should be able to direct his thoughts toward something else, a previous conversation, perhaps, so that when the light at long last turns green, or when the loser in front finally starts to move, the wait will be forgotten amid the screech of rubber on cement. Simply waiting, yet quietly cursing the grandpa-of-a-driver in front of you is not patience. That is tolerance. Patience is finding something else to do with the minutes of forced standstill, whatever one is condemned to wait for.

As a young child, I was not patient, though few are. I wanted everything right then and there. I was so young, so childish that nothing could fill my undeveloped mind but the minutes slowly ticking by. The wait was everything. As I grew up, more things were available for me to think about while I had to wait. I had classes to worry about, tests looming over my pre-teenage head, and stories about my peculiar classmates and the ridiculous things they had done that day. The wait is nothing now. Although I have only lived a meager eighteen years, I find that something is always available for my thoughts to grasp onto and tear apart.

It seems to me that people appear to be missing the ability to redirect their thoughts to anything else besides their annoyance at having to wait. Drivers loudly honk at you the second the light turns green when they could have been singing along to a favorite song on the radio. People go to restaurants and grumble about the horrible service when they could have been enjoying the company of those around them. Family members complain about dinner being late when they could have been setting the table, or helping with the meal. The population cannot focus on anything but the incompetence of others who are just like the rest of them, yet are taking just a little too much of their time.

I believe that only when we can focus our thoughts on something else, not on the annoyances of our lives, not on the minutes slowing ticking by, not on the idiot drivers on the road, but on something totally irrelevant to the wait, can we truly be patient.