THE WAITING PLACE
by Dr. Seuss
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
I’ve loved Dr. Seuss since I was a young girl. I still do. I am fascinated by his ability to take imperative life lessons and weave them seamlessly and creatively into timeless children’s books. Hindsight is an incredible force and it is definitely one that is relied upon too heavily in our society. Why do we wait until people or experiences are gone to grasp their value? How many times have you heard the saying, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” There is a lot of proven psychology behind the fact that we want what we can’t have. Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. summarized the three main factors as heightened attention, perceived scarcity and psychological reactance. Simply stated, we focus more on things we know we can’t have especially when we think there isn’t enough to go around and even more so if someone tells us we can’t have it. Human beings are creatures of habit whether we like to admit it or not. We complain about people, careers, parents, living situations but undoubtedly miss them when they are gone. When we look back, we realize it really wasn’t that bad and we see the memory with the rose colored lens of hindsight. Nostalgia has a funny way of making people funnier, food more delicious, weather more intense and good times more exciting. How do we transfer the power of nostalgia into right now? How do we actively appreciate life and the world around us each and every day? How do we escape the waiting place?
Once again, this is why I turn to writing. This is why I wish more people would turn to writing. When you force yourself to reflect about your circumstance 9/10 you reflect upon the good aspects of your life instead of the negative things. You can also find solace and strength for getting through situations that are undeniably difficult. It may not be the answer for everyone, but time and time again it proves to work for me. Now that I have finished my long-term substitute teaching position in the inner city and I am not in the day-to-day grind of feeling exhausted, under appreciated and down right depressed; I have gained hindsight and perspective. I knew that I would feel this way because I took the time to reflect and to look at it through the bigger picture while I was immersed in it. When it became too much to swallow, I realized I hadn’t taken the time to reflect and release with my words. Now I am blessed with the time to do so before I embark on my next exhilarating journey.
As a society and a generation, we are loosing the ability to look at situations through a broader scope and focus on the means to an end. I wanted to move to Australia and pursue my travels so that teaching opportunity was the most logical stepping-stone to get me there. It was hard, it was stressful, I cried a lot, but I got experience in a demographic I never thought I would and I touched the lives of young people who need more than anything a positive role model to believe in them. I had no idea I would ever teach that age level or outside of my certification area, but usually the best lessons I learned when we embrace uncertainty instead of running away from it.
During the past few months working in an extremely under privileged environment, I was reminded how truly fortunate I am to have the opportunities I have because of how I was raised, my education and my desire for MORE. Not only do I have a desire for MORE but I also have a sense of urgency and a sense of responsibility. I am not sure how to teach this or where I learned it but I think it is the greatest flaw of our generation and our society. This experience has inspired me to have a vested interest in studying this topic throughout my future.
Unfortunately, I see so much opportunity in the country I grew up in but I also see countless wasted opportunities. I am so proud to be American but over the last year, as my eyes were opened to different cultures and countries and values, I began to realize our view of what it means to be an American and everyone else’s view are vastly different. As I’ve said before, everything in life is a fine line and this proves to be true time and time again. In our digital world, everyone is hyper connected and literally and figuratively set up to compare their own lives to the lives of others.
We seek approval, we seek acceptance, and we seek companionship. We want what we can’t have. This isn’t breaking news but technology magnifies and materializes this phenomenon. But the best lesson I have learned is there is a reason we are each unique. Every individual brings something unique to the table. Most people spend their lives trying to fit the mold and others thrive off breaking it. If you aren’t willing to risk being judged, called crazy, mocked and talked about; you probably won’t attain what you truly want out of this world.
I decided after a lot of contemplation, visa application drama, and conversations with friends and family, that I am officially booking a one-way ticket to Australia. I leave July 27th. I don’t have a place to live yet or a job. I plan on backpacking for a month or so with my brother and Jackie and then following the path that life takes me. I’m not exactly sure how long I will be there. This terrifies some, dare I say, most people. But it makes me feel alive. A one way ticket with endless possibilities. I love to talk about it but I also love to do it. Sometimes you have to jump before you see the net. Despite being nervous, despite all that can go wrong, I am willing to risk it and I know that the experience, good or bad, will be a part of life that in hindsight was astoundingly influential. In the words of JFK, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” I refuse to stay in the waiting place. Cheers! xx