Waiting is a funny game. It’s a game we play all the time. It’s a game that if we win, we believe we have gotten one over on someone or something, maybe life itself; but if we lose, we lose with something far from grace. American culture teaches us to be poor players in the game of Waiting. The skills we prize as Americans tend to be self-defeating: impatience, entitlement, indignation, primacy. These are words I have embodied and given flowering life to for many years. Sometimes life has other plans and there is a beauty in that. It’s been nice to learn that Waiting for a response, any response, is not only ok but healthy. The Waiting has given our family time to create some beautiful memories.
The above video is of Lady Persistence Lucky Flippers making her escape.
My husband’s tools for playing the Waiting game with grace have come from several different areas of work. Through his studies earlier in life, Clint came across much guidance for self-reflection and determination of what will benefit him and his family most in life. Waiting gracefully, it seems, is one of those things. He also has not been employed by an outside entity in over a year. He’s adapted to answering only to his own voice. Well, and mine, too. Ok, so mine primarily, but his is in there somewhere. Most interesting, though, has been his ability to find physical distractions that have given him space for himself, space where he can have fun and find quiet. He now meditates each morning alone on our deck or on the beach. He follows this with a yoga practice he honors before he puts his SUP in the water for a sunrise session with the waves. It has left him with a calmness and an acceptance that has made the Waiting dissolve away to a nearly non-existent force.
My skills in the Waiting game are much less refined than my husband’s. When we got back to the United States we had only the softest of outlines for the next couple weeks of our lives. And weeks was about as far as we had gotten in the planning. After all, we were Waiting, and planning is anathema to a good Waiting. I was fortunate enough to slide right back into my prior employment after just one phone call over the Memorial Day weekend. This leads me to the first skill I’ve been nurturing to get me through the Waiting game: gratitude. Finding reasons to give thanks for your current situation takes away some of the sting that Waiting can cause. For a person raised with impatience, entitlement, indignation, and primacy as some of the most highly-refined and oft-used tools in my armamentarium, learning to Wait with grace has been a challenge. Had I not left my land-based life and become a sea ascetic (ha!) I’m not sure I would have made it through this Waiting. But I made gratitude my focus early in this Waiting game and that has made all the difference. From that, I have been able to find joy in the busyness of my work so that ennui doesn’t set in. I find peace in my quiet time, not impatience disrupting my flow. Overall, I’ve tried to import to this Waiting life on land the slowing down of life that the ocean taught me to be so valuable. You see, if you rush at Waiting, it will beat you every time. So I close my eyes, take a breath, and I smile. And with that, Waiting must wait.
Our girls, Evyn and Marley, have gone about Waiting completely differently. Clint and I knew that the Waiting was coming as early as March of this year. As always, we moved forward with our typical parenting style of including our children in all family happenings. We began describing the likely Waiting and the uncertainty that goes with it to the children. We told them of all the things to come this summer while we would be Waiting — summer camp, cousin time, grandparent time, farm time. Our plan had been to show them that we had things to look forward to for the Waiting that were solid, stable, loving, and safe. Instead of taking it in stride as we had hoped, they charged ahead, leaving their current moment in order to live in the future moments, the moments where the Waiting was already lurking, hoping to catch them before they were prepared and supported. Clint and I had to step in as parents and reorient them to the here and now of MarVyn life as we were still somewhere around Guadeloupe when they let go of the present. To rush into a game of Waiting is to put yourself at a disadvantage. Let it come when it’s ready but not a minute before. The girls came back well and jumped into present life again. And it’s that skill of the child, to find play in nearly any moment, to move unfettered from one play space to another, that has allowed them to succeed in the summer’s Wait.
And so the MarVyn crew have met the Waiting game head on this summer. So far, I’d say we’re playing it well.