Learning to Wait at the DMV

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Sometimes I feel like I spend entire days in wait: for traffic lights to turn green, for e-mail responses to come, for naptime to come so I can get a couple hours of writing and “me” time in. For the heart-pounding class at the gym to finally come to a close, for my husband to get home, for my fingers to pound out that final word on my manuscript. And so the story goes.

But oftentimes, the more I focus on all this waiting I have to do, the more impatient I become. It’s as if the rose-colored glasses that I normally view life through turn a monstrous shade of green.

And it gets ugly. I get ugly. Life itself gets ugly.

I ready my hand to blare the horn and I curse my computer toward all those blasted humans on the other side of my computer that do not understand my need for a timely reply, snarkle, snarkle. I snap at my children and I slam bedroom doors, as if that’s an acceptable outpouring of my frustration. I barely acknowledge my husband when he walks through the door, and I forget to give myself grace when it comes to my own set of self-imposed deadlines.

In all of these moments—moments in which I could have stopped and paused and breathed in the beauty of the present moment—I’ve instead lost the opportunity altogether. The waiting has gotten me nowhere, and it’s a nowhere I realize I don’t want to arrive at again anytime soon.

For this nowhere is no way to live.

The irony, of course, is that when I’m in waiting situations with other people, I often become the best version of my waiting self, the person I want to be in all waiting circumstances.

I stand in line at the DMV, a hub known for extreme queues. It’s also a place beautifully filled with every type and kind and make of person, with those I don’t normally see everyday as I flit around in my bubbled world. If I don’t have a child attached to the hip, I carry with me a book, and I relish in the chance to read entire chapters uninterrupted. But then it happens every time: the fleshy people around me catch my attention. They stir my insides with excitement for the story we humans naturally create.

I hear the woman behind me, who huffs and puffs as if she’s about to blow the DMV down. She complains about the line and she complains about the lack of workers. She complains about her swollen ankles, and she complains about the fact that she’s been here twice already this week, Can you even believe THAT?

And I smile and I nod, and then somehow the laments she spews forth have the opposite affect on me. I become the happiest, most chipper version of myself.

I hear the man in front of me, (because let’s be honest, I’m eavesdropping), and his conversation with the DMV employee makes my day:

“Do you still weight 165 pounds, sir?”

“No, I lost weight!”

“How much do you weigh then, sir?”

“I lost twenty pounds!” He beams.

“So, you weigh 145 pounds now, sir?”

“Yup.” He turns around and gives those of standing in line a head nod. I nod my head in return, and a smile spreads across my face.

Man, I love the human race.

Waiting is inevitable, but how we choose to sit with the waiting is ours alone. As for me, I want to be the one who delights and laughs at the world around her, fully in tune to the melody of life before her and behind her. I want to laugh at the things to come, and I want joy to deeply penetrate every part of me. And when waiting comes, and along with it, times that require endurance and perseverance, I want to be the best version of my waiting self.

But for now, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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10 thoughts on “Learning to Wait at the DMV

  1. Oh my goodness, this is so me. I get so impatient and then when I see impatience in others I think it is so silly. I want to OPEN my eyes and see the world around me instead of just rushing through it. Clever and cute and just so beautifully written, Cara!

    • Friend, that is such a compliment coming from you. Thank you so much …and here’s to our eyes being open to the world around us. Here’s to not rushing. xo.

  2. YES! How I sit with the waiting makes all the difference — for me and for the people in my life. Thanks for this wise and wonderful post!

    • Oh, thanks for your encouragement, Michele! Of course, now that I’ve put it out there for all the world to see, I’ll actually have to follow through on my own wisdom. 😉

    • Oh friend, in this waiting with you: for our words, for our stories, for all the big and little parts of our lives. xo.

  3. Cara, this is so real! At times this is how I’ve reacted “But oftentimes, the more I focus on all this waiting I have to do, the more impatient I become.” Our attitudes do play a big part, don’t they? I love your last paragraph and I would also like to be that way! I’m always more relaxed and happier when I don’t get impatient, but try to find the good in each moment, even in the waiting. I fail often, but I’m learning. 🙂

  4. I used to find myself so frustrated and antsy in lines, traffic, and waiting periods. I used to tap my foot impatiently and come up with a list of reasons for the delay in order to better complain. It frustrated me when I started taking note of just how many hours I was missing in my day by waiting around for various things. I learned first to make use of the time by filling it with menial tasks I could easily forget about like replying to emails or texts. But my favorite thing to do is to simply listen and watch the world around me. Doing so reminds me just how beautiful this world is and the people in it.

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