by Kristen Moeller
“Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night…”
—Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
It has been said the journey within is the most important journey of all. Many of us follow a path, searching for meaning — for something “bigger.” A lot of us have been doing this for a very long time. We have the skills, we have the know-how; we are wise beyond our years and generous to a fault. We have attended a legion of trainings, workshops and retreats. We have studied with the teachers, masters and gurus. We may even have become a teacher, master or guru ourselves. With this level of dedication, you would think we would be happy.
Mostly we are. Then there is that small, vexing voice that keeps us craving what we don’t have, desiring things to be different and hoping one day to arrive at some magical destination just the other side of the horizon. We don’t quite let ourselves rest in who we are or where we are. Instead we continue to seek and search. And all the while, we wait.
Once upon a time, we simply waited for the basics. We waited to earn more money, to have less debt, to get married (or to get divorced), to have children, to retire. Many of us even waited to become spiritually enlightened! We hoped the next new experience or seminar or retreat would give us the answer. We waited for the right teacher to say the right words and hoped all would fall into place. We waited for recognition, to be discovered, to feel safe, to get it right. We waited to feel inspired (one of my personal favorites). We waited until our affairs were in order, our eggs in different baskets, our ducks in a row. We waited for world peace or the next president or a new car. Some of us even waited to die.
We live in interesting times and, as the world continues to change, the waiting game changes too. These days we are busier than ever before. We are clearer about our purpose and why we are here, yet we often sense that something is still amiss. As the earth seems to spin faster and faster on its axis, a craving emerges from down deep, turning into an itch we can’t quite scratch. We look around at all the change, transformation, and upheaval that surround us and, even though we marvel, we find that in our heart of hearts what we really want are some old-fashioned guarantees. We want this wild and wacky world to make sense and even to slow down for just a moment so we can catch our breath. We keep searching for that magic pill — the one that would make us, the world, and everything all right.
At this rate, we could wait forever and ever and ever. This crisis may be subtle in that our waiting might slowly fizzle the life force right out of us, or it might be severe,where we one day wake up and realize it’s too darn late. That’s the thing about waiting — it is inherently sneaky. It seems so eminently reasonable, like the right or wise thing to do given our current precarious state. Then it takes over as a quiet, often unconscious decision that traps us in its murky depths.
The result of all this waiting is that we have lost our freedom to simply be. And, when I say “be,” I mean that deep-down, knowing sense of who we are and what we are made of, that quiet peaceful voice that tells us we are OK, the ease of feeling at home in our own skin. Instead, we have false images of how we should be, who we should be, what we should be, and, most of the time, in our own estimation, we don’t come anywhere close.
The time has come to stop waiting for the world to make sense. The time has come to stop waiting for life to slow down and things to settle out. The time has come to live our lives anyway — in the face of waiting, of massive upheaval as well as everyday stumbling blocks. If this really is (and I will borrow the profound words of Mary Oliver) our “one wild precious life,” what are we doing about that? Will we live in fear of the other shoe dropping, the bottom falling out, or the house burning down? Or will we go forth anyway, into the unknown, embracing the uncertain and reveling in the wildness of the in-between?
That’s what it means to stop waiting. It means we go forth anyway. We go forth into our dreams, hopes, and fears. We live that dream we have tucked away for a rainy day. We take that leap we have always hoped to take even when we don’t know how it will turn out. We simply come to know ourselves as people who go forth anyway, people who keep moving when all we want to do is quit, people who fall to our knees and get up, time and time again.
We also come to know when stopping is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves, and we learn patience for our souls in a way we have never experienced before. This is what real freedom is, to be at peace with ourselves, even in the face of all fears and hopes, even in the unknown while we confront the seductive pull of waiting.
It’s time we wake up — and maybe we don’t need an emergency — to remind us of this fact. Maybe, a gentle knock is enough.
“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” —W.M. Lewis
Perhaps once we are cleared of some old holding patterns, we really can greet our life with a “Hurrah!” instead of the fear that so often grips us, trips us up, or stops us cold. Perhaps we can finally accept that nothing is certain, that to be human is to be messy, and that throughout it all, we don’t have to wait for life to be ironed out. Perhaps then we will experience the freedom we have waited for all our lives.
Imagine this: You come to the edge of a cliff. You look down and wonder. Once you might have jumped, but now you play it safe. Deep down, you know who you really are and why you are here. You crave freedom — freedom to be and do and to discover yourself. You feel called to make a profound difference in the world. You feel the pull of internal peace. Yet, you linger on the edge, unsure of what to do next.
Now ask yourself: Where did you lose your freedom to fly?
Bestselling author, TEDx speaker and “Tiny House” dweller, Kristen Moeller MS, utilizes decades of training in counseling coupled with her own addiction recovery to champion those who become lost in their wild journey through this wacky world. Her latest book is What Are You Waiting For? How to Rise to the Occasion of Your Life. www.kristenmoeller.com