What Are You Waiting For?


Bill Tune


We spend much of our lives in some sort of anticipatory state. We wait for the mail to come, or the weekend, or the next holiday, birthday, anniversary, or for the next phase in our lives. It seems we are always waiting for something.

Waiting can be fun. Remember waiting for Christmas as a kid---all year it seemed? Kids always look forward to presents and candy. From birthdays to Halloween, the difficulty in waiting usually made for fond memories in the end.

My father loved technology. I can only assume that had he been born 50 years later he would be loving the iPhone/iPad world we enjoy today.  However, back in the 50’s, the technological breakthroughs that he experienced included the transistor radio, the TV and then color TV. His first transistor radio was smaller than a bread box and allowed him to listen to weather reports even when the power went out, and in tornado prone West Texas, that was valuable. We were
not a family of significant financial means, and yet we had a TV by 1953, and it picked up both of the TV channels in Lubbock. Ten years later he was lusting after a color TV.  In spite of my father’s meager income as a small church pastor, he somehow managed to provide each of his four children with one “big” gift each Christmas. When the twins and I were in junior high, he came up with an allegedly brilliant idea for Christmas: instead of individual “big” gifts, each of us would be satisfied with the family’s new color TV!  When presented with this option, we unanimously rejected it. No way were we giving up our “big” gifts! We had our traditional Christmas that year and a few months later Dad managed to afford the color TV.  I have no idea how long it took him to pay for it, but we were watching Bonanza in Living Color from then on!

Waiting can also be stressful, like waiting for Christmas as a parent or church musician---coming quicker every year!  This kind of waiting can turn into dread. A kid may dread imminent punishment for a broken window or bad grade while adults dread bad news as can come from medical diagnoses or other personal traumas.   I’ve been dreading coming up with examples of this, so I’ll just pass.

The fact is, like it or not, we wait---a lot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless waiting for the future prevents us from fully experiencing the present.  A little kid can’t wait to be a big kid.  The big kid knows he’ll have it made when it becomes a teenager who then longs for the freedom he will surely enjoy after high school graduation.  Young adults perceive true happiness being found in career and/or family.  Older adults pine for retirement.  We seem to always assume that life will be better when we reach the next phase, only to be disappointed when we get there.  A friend of mine once confided that she was very unhappy with her appearance as a young teen until her mother told her that everything would be better when she turned 18.  She was devastated to wake up on her 18th birthday to discover that she still had crooked teeth and little else had changed.

Anticipation of coming events can result in gratification or serious disappointment. Christmas is one such event that can easily go either way.  Most of us have the obligatory pictures of Christmas morning that capture the excitement and mess of opening presents.  The innocent excitement of young children is precious and often shared by the gift givers.  But not everyone gets to experience these warm fuzzy moments. I have a friend who becomes Santa at Christmastime.  He and his wife are generous and do all they can to help local kids have a happy Christmas. This year while sitting as Santa in a local park, a young boy asked him, “Are you coming to my house this year?”  Santa said, “Of course I am!”  The boy said, “You didn’t last year.” Ouch. [Editor’s note: the boy was from a neighboring town so a church near his home was notified of the situation in hopes that he had a better Christmas this year.]

So what are we waiting for now? A new
relationship? A pay raise? For others to change? For the Ketchup to come out? (Cue Carly Simon’s “Anticipation.”) For an end to this essay?

Here’s my top ten list of things we wait for:

10.  In winter: the warm weather to return

  9.  In summer: the cool weather to return

  8.  Next year! (name your sport/team)

  7.  Friday! (if you’re employed)

  6.  Payday! (even retired people look forward to pension checks)

  5.  Rain (if you’re dry)

  4.  Sun (if you’re wet)

  3.  Having a family

  2.  Having the house back to yourself after the kids leave home

  1.  Your spouse finally realizing that you were right all along!

What are you waiting for?


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