The Lost Art of Waiting

Like any patriotic American, I went to see fireworks last night. Burdened by blankets and not much else, we set out at dusk to watch the pyrotechnic display. We were a bit worried that we would not be able to find a parking spot or a seat on the lawn, but our fears were quelled when we scored both. Positioned comfortably in the grass, we watched the clouds roll in to cover the setting sun.

And, in a phrase, we waited. And waited. And yes, even waited. Until one of us had the good sense to check our smartphone and be reconnected to the civilized world. The clock read about 7:45 or so. When were the fireworks supposed to go off, you ask? Around 9:30, or so the website said that no one had bothered to check until we were sitting at the designated launch arena. So, we had about an hour and a half.

Now, I was in a bit of a state. As a self-identified bookworm, I am rarely ever without a book. Actually, I am known to keep spare books in my car for just such an occasion. Heck, I’ve read during a bridge opening, with my car set in park. (You have three guesses about who forgot to bring a book to this particular shindig, and the first two don’t count.)

Yes, in surprising fashion, I did not have a book. And even more surprisingly, my father did. So, he made out the best in this situation because I did not even have a pair of headphones or enough battery life on my phone to surf the web and still take pictures of the main event.

Of course, you have probably figured out that we made out just fine during this harrowing ordeal. We saw the fireworks, and it was a great show. But how did we survive the waiting?

Truly, I forgot how torturous it was to have nothing to entertain yourself with during the dull moments of life before you could pick up at the good parts. My attention span was flitting and fleeting, and I was squirming in my skin.

But I also forgot that it was as pleasurable to feel the grass tickle your chin and watch children tumble and fall for the fun of it as it was to read a book or listen to music. I forgot how satisfying it was to observe your surroundings instead of avoiding them. Just being has its perks instead of doing all of the time.

Not to be a begrudging member of our society, because I like the advances we have made in modern entertainment, but I wonder at the cost of having constant stimulation. Truly, I think there is an art to waiting in that you can find entertainment in your own head and not on a screen. And yes, for us shy people, the fact that you can look down at a screen while passing a person you may know without having to make small talk is a godsend. But when is it time to look up again? When will we put down the phone recording the fireworks instead of seeing them ourselves?

All in all, I hope to regain the lost art of waiting. Of making a game out of thin air. Of entertaining myself with thoughts alone. Of seeing fireworks behind my eyes long after they have disappeared into the night instead of saving them on a small disk for a shorter amount of time. Because this is all I will have in the end.

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