Refining the Art of Waiting Creatively

Here I am, patiently sitting in the One World Lounge at Frankfurt International Airport, waiting until my flight back to the states is called. I have some time….at least an hour or two and will use them to reflect about the art of using time as it passes.

My mother used to say, repeatedly, I was in a hurry from the time I was born, that I must’ve been born with no patience. I often wondered if it was she who had no patience, specifically with me, but that’s another story, one which might be told, at a later date. Anyway…Somewhere along the line…maybe early on, I, as children often do, began to believe her. Was it my hyperactive imagination that rushed ahead of my body or the minds and expectations of others that couldn’t handle my exuberance, like my teachers and parents? It really is not important except, I have been learning to refine my enthusiasm to blend well with my own concept of time. Other people will just have to deal with their own sense of impatience about me or anyone/thing in their lives.

Somehow through the years, in whatever line I have stood, and for whatever purpose I have waited, I have never been bored nor, in actual fact, particularly impatient. Instead I have carefully observed my surroundings and any people in my vicinity, using the moments to led creative expression to raise its powerful head. Plus, I’ve never been accused of being shy, so I often find ways to interact, to breach the awkward silence of elevators, beginning conversations with remarks about the Muzak or even sing a song about elevators themselves. I will admit I have, from time to time, been in a hurry and found myself stuck behind someone counting pennies to a financially and mathematically challenged cashier. This is where my learning to find the humor in situations beyond my control and take slow deep breaths has come in handy.

Before I got here today, I was in one line to pay my hotel bill, then stood in line to take the shuttle bus from terminal 1 to terminal 2, behind people to go through pre-security interview, then one to get my boarding pass. I then took a short walk and an escalator followed by an extended queue to pass in front of federal police but first I was behind a nervous little man whose ID was questioned for a long period all while I observed many fellow passengers zip by on either side without a hitch…I changed lanes as soon as I could, had my passport stamped and sashayed down a long hallway after which I stood ….in line at the duty free shop to purchase a package of gummy bears, then walked some more until I reached this lounge, where I stood in my most recent line to get in. All through the mini periods of waiting I remained calm, observant and even joy filled. Each of these periods of waiting were for me a form of meditation…at least that’s the line I’m giving, if you choose to wait in it.

This posh club? I have a cushy seat here, with tasty open-faced finger sandwiches…no not those things protruding from my hands, even if at times, they can be tasty…especially to my doggies. These are made of smallish pieces of bread and assorted cheeses…Brie, mozzarella, Camembert, Gouda …what no Stilton? With slices of cucumber, or tomato or olive. There is a cappuccino machine that looks like it belongs in a Starbucks and a full bar…the contents, all of which is gratis. Here I am reminded it pays to use my credit card that gives me miles…and finger sandwiches.

And still I wait. Often, when I begin to meditate, I will rush to quiet my most imaginative mind, which of course is counterproductive … And countering anything in meditation is, defeating the purpose. And so I breathe, deeply until my breath dissolves my thoughts, before I know it I am diving into the unknown reaches of my being. The rush to get “there” simply vanishes in the process of my being “here”. Who would’ve thought the “impatience” of my youth would’ve evolved into little Zenish me. Funny, I don’t look it.

It is 6pm in Philadelphia and I have made the long trip across The Atlantic. I stood in … A line to deplane, a short line through US customs, walked a good airport mile, maybe even two since I am feeling zombie-like, passed thru another tsa screening (again a line) thankfully without a pat down. And here I sit, fatigued from having watched a marathon of movies (all of which were imminently forgettable) on the plane from Frankfurt without sleeping a wink, ensconced in yet another albeit comfy airport executive lounge chair.

Oops…Did I nap? So much for attempting to stay awake to avoid jet-lag. In another forty minutes I will board the flight for the final leg of today’s journey. I lead a wonderful life, that includes line-standing, one in which I have learned to find the gifts in waiting as each moment occurs…side note: apparently I may sleep through some of this.

I am on my plane to Raleigh. Seated next to me is a thirty-something marketing director for private colleges. I hesitate to mention aloud that he may be partly responsible for the problems of student debt, the subject of which concerns me..we have an hour flight, I muse, I can bring this up later, unless I forget. He asks me about tips for meditation, then says excitedly he thinks he is too impatient to meditate since his mind works all the time. I assure him this is normal…that he can either use his impatience as an excuse for not meditating or use it to go deeper, that anything can be a roadblock to prevent us from achieving bliss. I’m not sure he hears me, as he lists further reasons for not going into silence.

Funny enough, as he spews his litany of excuses for not meditating, I am reminded of the trash I use to create art. So many people throw out their thoughts and words, like garbage without a thought of where it might go. I ponder his unconscious word scattering. No, he is not talking in his sleep, but what I perceive is instead his speaking without thinking about the ultimate results of his words. He has, possibly literally, created reasons against waiting, patience, which might ultimately lead him to peaceful meditation, rather than provide avenues in which to do so. More often than not, this is based on fear. Should we go into why he is afraid? Naw, I will save it for another post.

I ask myself, rather than him, “Do I do this? Am I the one who finds reasons which prevent me from being fully in the moment?” I quietly ponder this as I notice we have landed in Raleigh. I can deplane and see my son. My waiting is over….for now. I have got some time to meditate on it.

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