Don’t wait

For the world to change. It might, but that doesn’t guarantee you will be any happier.

I have noticed that when things go wrong, a kind of paralysis sets in. We just give up. But what if that’s the time when we need to learn about making the most of what we have? Like when you’re stuck on a beach, build a sandcastle. When life gives you lemons…

The writer Václav Havel once remarked: 

Hope … is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.*

There is a tendency to present our situations to other people as works in progress. When asked how we are, we’ll say ‘getting there’ instead of ‘terrible’, which may well be closer to the truth. But really, is life not better if we can believe things are moving in the right direction? To decide the status quo isn’t going to improve is to concede defeat.

If there is something that needs to happen for you, then you have no choice but to wait. But don’t let the time you spend waiting be stolen from you. Claim it as your own and put it to use. Like people who read in airport boarding lounges and don’t put their book away until the line is beginning to form. I am not that person but I wish I was.

I was told a month ago that my broken hip hadn’t healed much recently. They told me someone would be in touch. What am I doing right now? Waiting and wondering what on earth I can do to make myself better. I don’t have the answer for that one and no-one has called. At the moment the challenge is to make some lemonade I suppose. To find some sense in this crazy time, as Vaclav would say.

Make a plan if you’re stuck in the doldrums. List all the things you can do right now to pass the time. Turn the ‘waste’ into something useful. Don’t stop hoping but never let wishing hold you prisoner. Any time we have is a gift, whether the situation is about to improve or it isn’t. I’m sure farmers still make hay whether the sun is shining or not.

So, I think I’ll learn how to make lemonade. Who’s with me?

*Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvížd’ala, trans. Paul Wilson (London: Faber and Faber, 1990). Quoted in Michael Ignatieff, On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times (London: Picador, 2022) p. 230.

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