I see that annoying little icon on Facebook that tells me they have read my message, but haven’t replied.
I sigh, exasperated. Vow to ignore it. Do something else.
Oh yes, they’ve definitely been online—again. Not even a, “hey, can’t write now, talk soon!” to show for it.
And I can hardly complain, as I’m as bad as the worst of them when it comes to calling, writing or texting back.
Still, it nags.
And it nags, and it nags, and it nags.
This time, I mean it. I’m not going to waste another minute of my time irritated with the communicative incompetencies of my fellow human beings.
Nope, not me—nothing gets to me like that anymore (or so I like to think).
And so it goes.
So, what is a disgruntled “human waiting” to do?
We call; they don’t call back.
We write; they don’t write back.
You get the picture.
Exasperated, irritated and wasting our precious time with such petty emotions, we shut our laptops, turn off our phones and vow not to think about it.
But oh, how unruly the mind can be.
What can we do?
When they don’t call, we can sigh, stomp our feet and glower with exquisite powers of expression as we wait, all the while gathering our impatience about us like dark, swirling cloaks.
Or, we can try to leave it be. Practice compassion—perhaps someone in the family is sick, perhaps they’re busy, perhaps their thumbs are simply too tired.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
And then we forget, of course. Glower, sigh, flick impatiently through past calls.
It’s okay, the impatience. It’s okay, whichever emotions may march through our spectacularly uncooperative hearts. We sit with it.
And then we remember.
They haven’t called.
For f*ck’s sake, there are worse things.
We leave it be. Do something else.
Bring our thoughts back to ourselves and all that is so much more significant.
And the process continues.
It is a meditation unto itself, this reining in of impatience, this coming back to ourselves as we forget, then remember, then forget all over again.
Eventually, waiting settles like a calm pool at the base of our mind, and we actually let it go.
Eventually, it becomes less a matter of waiting, and more a state of that ever-elusive detachment.
We glower less, and smile more.
When they don’t call, write, text—when they are late, forgetful, careless—we (try to) practice.
And, we can only hope, it gets easier.
Author: Toby Israel
Image: Kyle Broad/Unsplash