Waiting for the Now to Pass

Written by  //  January 14, 2013  //  THOUGHTS  //  No comments

wall-clock-puzzle

I would like to tell you what I have discovered about happiness in life. It’s not something I knew for a very long time and I get the impression that many people aren’t familiar with the concept, simply because I’ve never heard anyone talk about it before.

What I want to tell you is that we are all very confused by time. Because the past is not now and the future is not now, it is very easy to think that what is going on right now is very important. In actuality, sometimes the now is just meant to be putting distance between us and our past and sometimes the now is just meant to be a waiting room for our futures. So, sometimes, in the now, nothing really exciting is going on.

Many years of my life were not very exciting years, simply because I had no idea for the longest time what I was meant to be doing in life. I had a strong suspicion that it would involve helping other people in meaningful ways, but I had no idea precisely how I was meant to be going about it. This was important, because we need that in order to be happy – a knowledge of how we are valuable in this life, knowledge of what it is we can do that actually matters and makes a difference.

So for years, because I was confused by time, I looked around and saw very little going on. There were jobs that didn’t make much sense for me and also relationships that came and went and were, at times, foolish or painful. There were a lot of mistakes and there were some successes, too.

What I see now, that I could not see then, is how all of those things created for me a picture of what I did not want my life to look like. It’s very difficult to appreciate the sun, unless you’ve experienced the rain. However, along with that, one of the biggest mistakes that I made was to fight the rain, so to speak – to treat the waiting like it was torture, like I didn’t deserve to have to wait for amazing things to happen in my life, like I didn’t deserve to have to wait for the sun to start shining.

Because I had this attitude, I kept looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I wanted extraordinary happiness and I wanted it right then. Looking back, I even believe that I ruined many months of my life trying to make amazing things happen, instead of being patient and having faith that the mundane things would eventually lead to more.

Funny thing, I even wrote a poem in 2004 that captured how I felt at the time: I was sick of waiting (you can read the poem here).

Years later, I finally have come to terms with the reality that life has many wonderful things in store for us that we cannot anticipate and that, for many reasons, cannot be rushed. Sometimes you just have to wait for the rain to stop and, sometimes, it doesn’t stop for years.

As an example, one of the most rewarding, most meaningful, and most emotionally moving experiences I’ve ever had in life was teaching an educational psychology course for a university as an adjunct instructor. Interestingly, the whole thing seemed to happen by mistake: with no previous experience teaching the subject, I was asked to fill an opening six days before the quarter began, simply on the recommendation of a friend, who happened to be the associate chair for the department. She had faith in my abilities and suspected I would be up for the challenge.

The course went well. The students liked the material and were a blast to work with, and I found myself. Teaching the class changed me, changed my life, and changed my whole outlook on education, on psychology, and on what I wanted my focus to be in life. I felt like I had come home, so to speak, and that I was finally doing what I was designed to do in this life. I had never even thought twice about ed psych. In fact, I thought that the class was kind of boring when I took it as an undergrad. But, nonetheless, teaching the course fit me like a glove and the students’ response to my curriculum and to my teaching style was touching and made me feel honored to have had the opportunity.

When I looked at the years that led up to that one moment of being asked to teach that one course, I see that there were many, many small things that added up to what finally occurred. There would have been no reasonable way for me to have put all the pieces together until it was all said and done, but the preparation that I was given for the experience -and the brief, yet positive interactions that I had had with that associate chair (which the whole experience hinged on!)- all of that is now so clear to me, even though most of it occurred during years that were otherwise somewhat disappointing or seemingly uneventful.

As the old metaphor goes, it’s as though life was giving me unrecognizable pieces to a puzzle, one at a time, that were one day going to make a beautiful picture, but none of the pieces were being given in the correct order or in any sensical order for me to make heads or tails of. As a result, I tended to lack appreciation for the pieces as they came to me. What I can see now -what is so clear to me now- is that the picture not only came together, but came together in a truly amazing way -in a way that I will be forever grateful for.

When I think about these experiences and when I think about what they mean for me and what they might mean for others, there is one clear idea that comes to my mind: there are amazing things in store for you in this life, for all of us. I promise it. The final picture of each individual’s puzzle will be amazing, if you can just be patient with time and wait to see the final picture.

However, if you’re life is anything like mine, none of your pieces, by themselves, will make much sense to you. And sometimes that means that the now will not be as nearly as exciting as you might like it to be. And, as the months and years pass while all of the pieces slowly materialize, one unrecognizable piece at a time, you may find yourself disillusioned by the seeming lack of overall meaning. But the overall picture will come – finally. And you will be able to see clearly.

But not before; at least not usually.

And while the now remains seemingly uneventful, there will be ample opportunity to pass the time, which means that boredom and complacency can easily creep in and destroy perfectly good months and years. In fact, sometimes the waiting can even cause you to lose some of the pieces out of foolishness or hurt those around you, simply because you don’t see clearly yet. At any rate, know that life is always handing you pieces and hopefully you’ll be able to remember what they will one day be for.

In the end I know, if you’re patient, your life will inevitably reveal itself as a masterpiece, for which you can be extraordinarily pleased and eternally grateful. Just wait for the now to pass and you’ll eventually see.

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