Corps Member Jonathan Barry Wolf is returning this month as the guest blogger for May!
A World of Waiting
Waiting is the worst. Everyone knows it. That’s why Amazon created Prime subscriptions and drone delivery technology. That’s also why people have started training falcons to destroy these drones mid air, even though they aren’t being used to deliver packages anywhere yet (these people don’t even want to wait until the drones are being used before they start protecting themselves from the possibly nefarious drone technology). Clearly, no one wants to wait for anything. Food is fast at the drive thru window, cat videos load quickly if you have a good Wifi router, and cars and highways give us (relatively) speedy access to resources and new locations. These privileges lull us into the false sense of reality: A pseudo-world in which we are entitled to a life without waiting.
This is obviously not the case. I’ve been in waiting for the past eight months. Waiting to make decisions, and waiting for others to make decisions about me. I will admit, I am an indecisive person. When faced with the anxiety of a difficult choice, I tend to default to what might be best described as “armadillo-ing”: I roll all of my anxiety about decisions into a tiny little ball and try to wheel it back, deep down inside so I don’t have to worry about the consequences of saying “Yay” or “Nay” to an impending question. Armadillo-ing has hurt me and a few other people this year. As my Mom always says, “Choosing not to make a decision is making a decision.” And, I guess, I’m sorry for the way my armadillo-ing has steamrolled others. No one deserves to wait for an armadillo to uncurl. Waiting is the worst, and I’m sorry.
On the other side of this abstract wheel of waiting, my future lies completely in the hands of the institutions currently reviewing my applications and comparing me to other “waiters.” After so many late nights and longing thoughts, my future sits in the hands of entities so far away from me. I have no control over whether I will be picked for a tuition scholarship or a job interview. In this way, I feel like an Ankylosaur—a cretaceous-era herbivorous dinosaur with heavily-armored plates on its back and a soft belly—staring into the eyes of a T-Rex. Will the T-Rex flip me over and devour my insides? Or will it offer me a Grad Assistantship, full-tuition, and a stipend? The waiting and uncertainty only makes it worse. I don’t know where I will be next year, or what I will be doing. It’s difficult waiting in a liminal space (where armadillos and dinosaurs all live in the same metaphorical universe), especially when I’m so used to speed and accessibility.
Sometimes, after work I will take a walk on Front St. and across the Walnut St. Bridge over to City Island. This bridge used to be known as the “People’s Bridge” because it was the only bridge people could drive over without paying a toll. Nowadays, cars no longer drive on it: it is exclusively for walking. The majority of the bridge is made up of large, open grates so you can see down to the water below. As someone who is afraid of heights, I was nervous the first few times I crossed it. What if one of the rusty bars breaks? What if I drop my phone through one of the openings? I had to get over this fear. Now when I walk over, I can enjoy the crisp wind blowing past me and the sounds of the waves crashing against the concrete beneath. If I was driving over the bridge, I would miss this experience. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have to deal with my fear of falling. It’s the slow process of repeatedly walking over this bridge that has helped me to fully appreciate it.
It’s that same slow process of living in the season of uncertainty that will hopefully make me appreciate this season for all that it is. Human beings are not meant for speed. We live in a world of waiting. There is something for me to learn from living in this time of anxiety and fearfulness; of looking down at the open grates beneath my feet and choosing to keep walking. We are not entitled to speed, nor are we entitled to answers. But we are meant for for facing fears, wrestling with questions, and waiting, because all of these processes help us to slow down and reexamine what we want and who we are. So, even though I am tired of being in this period of uncertainty, I have to trust that it will help me become a better person—even if waiting is the worst.