It’s Wednesday and it’s gloomy outside. I went for a little run, and it started hailing as soon as I’d run no more than 35 minutes. Only 35 minutes. Seattle can be gloomy for such extended periods of time that it feels like you’re living in some sort of womb. A womb formed out of air and cloud and dew, that gives birth to things like evergreen trees, hot coffee and maybe an occasional snuggle with a dog named Rosie.
Do people in Seattle spend most of their lives in wait? Are they waiting for summer? Are they waiting for the sun to poke through the clouds? Are they waiting for something that might never come?
It is most likely naive to think that Seattlites spend their days waiting for sun – if they did, they’d spend all of their time in wait. How much of our lives do we spend in wait? Perhaps Seattle teaches you to enjoy where you are, no matter what the weather. Perhaps Seattle teaches you that even periods of your life considered to be the “in between” – vacations, waiting to become pregnant, waiting to get a job, waiting to find “the one” – even in those periods, life is still happening. There is still joy to be had, there is still quiet comfort to be found in the gloom, and there are cups of coffee that taste way better because it’s raining outside while you’re inside, cat in your lap, at peace.
How much of our lives do we spend waiting? How much of our lives do we spend waiting for the weekend, waiting for a vacation, waiting for the day we’ll finally have enough money to afford to buy a home? How much of our lives do we spend living in anticipation of some version of the future? If we consider so much of our lives a “transitional” phase, how much of our lives do we really spend enjoying being alive? Do we enjoy waiting?
I can certainly tell that Rosie doesn’t enjoy waiting when Stef leaves for work in the morning. I can see the worry in her delicate features, her brow furrowed, her lashes held perfectly still – her nose on high alert and the all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment when Stef closes the door and leaves for work. She rushes to the side room, looking out the window, and then slowly she resigns herself, giving up. Another day to lie in wait. She stations herself by the door, her pale cream body pressed air-tight against the floor, as if nothing else matters other than the moment Stef finally walks back through that door. It seems that Rosie waits too – her life on pause, her happiness on pause while she waits through a period of “insignificance” until her beloved comes home.
What if we were able to feel significance – to feel joy and to feel gratitude for the smaller things and the everyday moments in those periods of wait between significant events? Lows allow for highs and darkness sets the stage for brightness, but what if we were able to appreciate both? The valleys, the dips, the peaks and everything in between – the journey? It isn’t only the summit that brings joy on a hike. Once all is done, it is also the enjoyment of exercise; the breaths taken in between – the steps, the rivers and the plants on the side of the trail, if only one was to take note of them.
Instead of labeling periods of our lives as “insignificant,” what if we honored the beauty that is every moment of our lives? Instead of instinctively forging ahead, ignoring the foliage, what if we slowed down to notice the beauty of these moments between moments? Perhaps we’d notice that these too, are special.
And aren’t moments and the contrasts between them what make life feel longer? When we wait for the weekend, the week disappears and our weekends string together to create a life that feels short. When we place such meaning and emphasis on weekends, lackluster weekends ruin our days. When we notice everything and every day in between, we give each day a chance to be beautiful. We give equal weight to our experiences, and we allow ourselves joy in moments where we would never have found it.
Perhaps noticing the quiet comfort of the rain pattering on the windowsill – the temperature that makes it a perfect night to make tomato soup with a crusty piece of bread from the local bakery – perhaps that is the way to truly enjoy our lives – to savor every last drop, every last delectable minute.
And when the sun peeks through yet again, as it always does, we’ll smile, knowing how much immeasurable joy we have to live for.