I feel like I’ve been waiting for lots of things lately. Waiting for the vet to call with Silah’s biopsy results. Waiting for Dave to call on the satellite phone from his camp at Klinaklini Glacier in the Coast Mountains. Waiting for inspiration to strike so I feel like working on my book again. Waiting for my mental health to improve. Waiting for rain.
Waiting can be tiring, especially when you’re waiting for a test results. You’re on edge all the time, wondering when the phone call will come and guessing about the outcome. For the biopsy call, I both do and don’t want to know what the result is. So I carry the phone around with me (I have a landline, no cellphone) and wait to hear back.
Then there’s waiting for Dave to call. I don’t know how often he plans on calling, and sometimes they can’t get a connection with the satphone. Again, I carry the phone with me when I know they’re in camp around dinnertime, and think about what I can tell him in a 5-minute call that’s more than “hi, how are you, I’m fine, great, talk to you in a few days.” I save up anecdotes from the dogs and the garden in case I have time to share them, but the call is brief and my stories are often left in the dust. It makes me realize how being in a relationship is as much about the small daily things as it is about the big events. Not being able to share my anecdotes makes us even more disconnected than we already are by distance.
Then there’s waiting for inspiration to strike so I can work on my book. This is an unproductive type of waiting, as working on my book won’t happen unless I instigate it myself. I recently connected with an editing friend and we’re both working on book manuscripts: she’s writing a novel and I’m writing my field book. We decided to make some writing goals – we’ll each write for at least 30 minutes on the weekend and two 30-minute sessions during the week. It doesn’t sound like much, but I got more done in my first 30-minute session than I have in weeks of procrastinating and waiting for inspiration to strike. Writing is 90% work and 10% inspiration, so waiting for that 10% to appear is an exercise in futility. You have to create a writing practice and go from there, instead of waiting for the muse to visit you. By writing regularly, you create the conditions for the muse to appear, otherwise it will starve with no practice to feed on.
Waiting for my mental health to improve is a tricky one. I’m not miraculously going to get better one day (though the psychiatrist says sometimes people do have spontaneous remission for a decade or so – I’m not sure I believe him). In fact, I’ve gotten worse since I was first diagnosed eight years ago. So I can’t sit around waiting to get better – I have to decide how best to live within my limitations so I still have some semblance of a life. This is the hardest kind of waiting to overcome. I’ve changed medications and am waiting for the new ones to do their thing, but at the same time I have to do what works for me to live life now instead of waiting for things to improve. Maybe they will improve, but they also might not, and I have to be prepared to keep on keeping on even if they don’t.
I think all of us in the West are waiting for rain, if only to reduce the wildfire danger and make it easier to get a handle on the fires that are already burning. But it’s just wishful thinking. The long term forecast is for sun sun sun and warm weather, with 1 mm of rain predicted for August 1. That’s so far away that I imagine it will disappear from the forecast before then. As if 1 mm would even make much of a difference.
So when you unpack it like this, all the waiting seems somewhat futile. Instead of waiting I should just get on with things and hope for the best. That’s all I can do in the meantime.