If you haven’t heard someone say that recently, keep listening. The season of anticipation is upon us.
I’m already anticipating the anticipation.
But I can wait.
In fact, I like the waiting. For me, anticipating the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is almost as much fun as celebrating them. And anticipation has a whole lot fewer calories.
The truth is, of course, we all can wait. We all do wait. What other choice is there?
All that wishing and hoping doesn’t speed up - or slow down - time one little bit.
For those who “can’t wait,” however, time seems to drag. For those who enjoy the wait, time seems to zip by way too fast.
We humans are hard to please.
Waiting is, after all, a weighty subject. And a prickly one.
Not every “wait” involves excited anticipation. Most of us spend a good portion of every day waiting for something. It can leave us bored or bothered.
That’s not exactly news. It’s not new, either.
“How much of human life is lost in waiting?” essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wondered more than a century ago -before traffic lights, checkout lines, airports and XBox.
If Emerson were alive today, he could log onto the Internet and read that the typical American, in the course of a lifetime, spends seven years waiting in line.
That doesn’t even count the average six months we spend, over the course of a lifetime, waiting at traffic lights. (I’m willing to bet I’ve spent longer than that at the intersection of Broad and Greenwood.)
Still, waiting, per se, is not the sole problem. It’s how we handle it.
All waits are not created equal. Neither are all “waiters.”
The man of the house, for example, can sit for hours in a deer stand - barely moving, not speaking - waiting on a buck to happen by. Even when the deer doesn’t show - which is most of the time - my favorite hunter doesn’t complain.
But just let him catch two red lights in a row on the way home from the woods, and he’s drumming his fingertips on the steering wheel, patting his foot agitatedly and muttering under his breath about how we can put men on the moon but can’t synchronize a few lousy traffic lights.
I’m pretty much the opposite. The little waits - the roadwork delays, the crowded checkouts, the inevitable lines in the ladies room - rarely get to me. I can’t control them, so why sweat them?
But it irks me no end to be “on hold” on the phone with awful canned music -or worse, a “helpful, educational” message playing. And I get crazy if a restaurant can’t get my food out before my stomach starts to growl.
It’s all relative, this waiting. And I don’t just mean waiting on your mama, your brother, your Aunt Susie or your Cousin Fred.
I’ve got multitasking friends who say, “A wait is a terrible thing to waste.” They whip out their knitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, balance their checkbooks in carpool lines, file their nails at traffic lights.
Others just shrug and say, “There’s always tomorrow.”
The psychology of waiting is interesting, too. Different people will experiencing the same wait differently. The same five minutes can seem like a while, a short while, a pretty good while, a long while, a very long while. A few will shudder in disgust and swear, “It took forever!”
Nothing, not even a wait, lasts forever. I do think the magical anticipation of the holiday season comes close. The memories we have - and make - inspire more “I can’t wait” moments.
If we are lucky, the wait never ends. It just starts over.
Andrea Lovejoy is former editor of LaGrange Daily News.