The Expectancy is Over

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on

We have always waited. Now in our post-lockdown phase of life as things return to their urgency, waiting has a new dynamic. We have entered the Expectancy.

How much of our life is waiting?

Research in the UK estimates between a year and five years waiting in queues alone. Americans spend 13 hours annually waiting for customer service. Anyone knows these kinds of stats are rubbish. They are projections off averages. We know the real answer is that we spend all of our life waiting.

I was waiting for something
to arrive. I didn’t know what.
Something buoyed, something
sun knocked. I placed my palms
up, little pads of butter, expecting.
All day, nothing.

Jane Wong, The Waiting

Waiting isn’t a task that is exclusive. We get on with things and we wait at the same time. Every minute we aren’t wholly absorbed in the present is waiting time. Waiting to wake up or go to bed. Waiting for a cup of coffee or toast. Waiting for that call or that email or that text. We live in the Expectancy because it has trained us to ever look forward and to calmly or wildly wait.

Waiting is our best achievement and our best excuse. Why hasn’t something happened? Well we are waiting for…[insert anything]. The more complicated our organisations and their process have become the greater the Expectancy’s grip on our lives. It’s just not possible to complete that until the end of the day, this sprint, another quarter or our next prioritisation.

Waiting is a solution.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

CP Cavafy, Waiting for the Barbarians

Overthrow the Expectancy

We have become so used to waiting that we hardly notice it happening any more. A pandemic slid into our readiness to wait and took hold. Lockdowns came and went. We waited for vaccines and test results. Our futures were delayed. Our tasks stretched out. We held on. We adapted to new time cycles. We added more waiting onto our lives full of the Expectancy. We started to become experts in the Rope-a-dope of waiting out the storms.

We need to overthrow the Expectancy. We need to rediscover Now.

Being present is the beginning. Making sure that this minute exists for us and we are here in it. The Expectancy will fight back. It will bring us things to wait for in every moment of the day. Our job is to be present enough to see them for the imposters they are.

But being present is not enough. We also need to start creating the lives we want now without waiting, without hoping others will bring it to us on a platter. They won’t. Owning our own actions is the start of us moving beyond waiting. Whatever we do today creates new options for tomorrow. Instead of waiting for gifts from the future, let’s plan to control our own options.

Out of your whole life give but one moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, – so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, – condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense –
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me –
Me – sure that despite of time future, time past, –
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet –
The moment eternal – just that and no more –
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

Robert Browning, Now

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