Patience is a skill that teaches joy. Patience teaches us the secrets of the universe and even the secrets deep within ourselves. Patience contains the greatest curiosities of technology and the greatest use of time imaginable: Rest.
I got my hair/make-up/wardrobe/shield ready and now my job is to wait to be called to set. I worked on a movie and now that it’s being edited, my job is to wait. I did a new draft on an episode of a show and I sent it off to the team to review and now my job is to wait. My kiddo is brushing her teeth by herself and now my job is to wait. I’m hungry but the only food I want takes time to cook and now my job is to wait. The Oscar nominations were announced and since it’s not my year, my job is to wait. My feelings were hurt and instead of doing anything about it, my job is to wait.
But how do I wait?
Waiting is active. I teach my kids that being patient is waiting with joyful expectation – If and when things are resolved, I must wait to get there. I can choose to watch the clock or choose to take all the feelings and let them go on my walk in the woods or I can do the 2,000 things waiting on my To-Do list. The waiting room is filled with any activity or rest that I choose. This waiting room is a holographic environment simulator, referred to as the Holodeck in Star Trek. If waiting meant you could go to the Holodeck, what would you do for that short time? You can do that now.
In the entertainment industry, things take so much time that our motto is hurry up and wait. The hurry up is where the work is laid out per team member, the wait is where life happens. So, every time you are waiting on something, that’s your life. That’s where all of your art and training and development and rest and meditation and thoughtfulness and inspiration comes from. If you are joyfully expectant for a result AND you consciously choose your waiting activity, you’ll feel satisfied with the result.
How do I figure out what is best to do while I wait?
I asked a friend of mine who is a therapist, “What do you wish everyone would put into practice in order to make life better?” He told me (probably in confidence, this was about 5 years ago now) that people who bounce back and forth into addiction, people who struggle with sleep, people who are hit hardest by life’s complications can practice this in order to prevent self-destructive behavior: Practice sitting in yucky feelings for 20 minutes longer than you think you can (put the phone down and just stay). Practice allowing yourself to feel awful without action. If you want to turn to booze, turn to food, turn to lashing out, choose to do things that create a destructive pattern in your life – just wait. Just WAIT before you do ANYTHING just 20 minutes longer than you think you can. Waiting allows you time to naturally change your mind and consciously choose something that you want to do instead of something that’ll numb you to the waiting room.
This is practical. When you want to make a choice of what to do in a given situation and you recognize that you are waiting on something else to happen (where all of your mental energy is actually hanging), take 20 minutes (simply set an alarm on your phone). Take 20 minutes. Just be still and thoughtful or cry or talk it out to yourself. Just 20 minutes. That’s it. Then do whatever you choose after 20 minutes is up. Your active waiting will be productive or restful because you have time to choose the right action for you.
This is where life happens. This is where joyful expectation can grow. This is where the best art is inspired. This is where we actually choose rest when we need it. If you’re reading this now, this is the time to choose what to do next: