“When someone is impatient and says, ‘I haven’t got all day,’ I always wonder, ‘How can that be? How can you not have all day?’” ~~George Carlin
Moving From Peeved to Please – Turning Frustration into Anticipation
I’m peeved. I just took delivery of my new laptop computer – on the 11th hour of the day before I had a major presentation in Toronto. It had taken nearly a month from the moment I ordered it online to it arriving on my doorstep. The longer it took, the more I called customer service. I was not the best friend of the customer service guy that was assigned to my case.
His biweekly calls kept assuring me that they had put in an order to expedite the process, that I would be getting it soon and he would call me in a couple of days. My straightforward question as to why it would take so long to make was never ever directly answered. At one point I even threatened to cancel altogether, but was promised that it would be arriving shortly.
I managed to jerry-rig my wife’s laptop for the interim. As the weeks went by, the more frustrated I became. My wife needed her laptop to do a lot of her work. At any rate, the programs I needed were not on her laptop. I felt like I was a mechanic without a toolbox, an artist without a color palette, a surfer without a board.
I made sure to make a list of the things I want to do when I got my real machine working. It was easy to justify putting off things because I didn’t have my machine. My wife’s computer that I borrowed was as cold and slow as molasses. It took forever to send email and forever to open up a new program.
I was tired of checking ads for similar laptop models in the Future Shop flyers; there are two of those stores within a 10 minutes’ drive from my house. It added to my frustration that I could drive down the street, buy a similar unit, and have it set up and running within the hour. To be certain, the unit I had ordered online was full-featured to my specs, $150 cheaper with complementary picture and video editing software that I desired, all wrapped up in a sleek aluminum bodied special edition model.
But I was tired of waiting. Why on God’s green earth, in this day and age, does take over three weeks to get a computer? My giddy anticipation of getting a new toy was steadily morphing into angst and frustration.
Perhaps you can relate to being tired of waiting for something or for someone to get it together. The first time I met a group of people that were tired of waiting was at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. This was the first time I can remember tapping into this angst.
My wife and I were sitting in portable chairs in the front row at the outdoor concert. We listened to the evening line-up of many different artists singing our life with their words over a 45-minute set. The final band of the night was a local popular group from Antigonish called The Trews.
The young fans crowding the dance area to the left of the stage started to swell as the band came on stage. The band’s sound was heavy rock with big drums, throbbing bass, grinding electric guitars. As The Trews sang their hearts out to their generation of adoring fans, the crowd of young people started to spill over into our seating area, blocking the view of those seated. So by peer pressure, we were forced to stand up. By the time the finale was on, we were caught up in the excitement of the evening.
The final song was titled, “Tired of waiting’”. And the title, repeated, was also the entire lyrics of the song as well. The song went on, seemingly forever. An anthem for generation Y. The young people pumping their fists in the air to the beat and singing and dancing along . At one point I found myself actually agreeing. “Hell yeah, me too, I am tired of waiting!”
I was not actually sure what they were tired of waiting for, but I could imagine. Tired of waiting to be asked to the prom. Tired of living by their parents’ rules. Tired of watching adults mess up the environment. Tired of waiting for politicians to do the right thing. Tired of waiting to have a voice. Tired of waiting for a good job. Tired of peer pressure and the struggle to be cool and find their gifts in the world.
Simple but profound sentiments with a heavy rock sound track to punctuate the angst and help tap a vein of truth. I am tired of waiting, too.
Besides waiting for my new computer, I’m tired of waiting for the warm water to come up the pipe in the shower in the morning. I’m tired of waiting for traffic to merge in construction zones. I am tired of telecom marketers who interrupt my meal. I am tired of waiting in the grocery line with 20 other people when there are only three lines open. I’m also tired of getting holes of my socks. I’m tired of politicians who make empty promises. While I am at it, I am even getting tired of my 19-month-old boy screeching every time he wants something, because he is at the cusp of forming words and at this stage can only point and squawk. I’m also tired of a newspaper carrier, more often than not, falling short of hitting the front door, forcing me to go down the walkway to get the morning paper in my pajamas.
But in today’s paper there was a follow-up article about the textile factory fire somewhere in Bangladesh. I can’t imagine the horror of trying to escape a burning building in which the exit doors had been locked. Over a 100 people died from stupidity and greed of the owners who locked the doors and were too cheap to have working fire extinguishers. A clear case of profits over people. Surely, they must be tired of living that reality.
That fire was certainly a tragedy, one of many tragedies that happen around the world in a given week. What brought the story home to me was the fact that the factory made clothing for Walmart and Disney. I wear clothing on my back from both those companies.
That “ah ha” moment refreshed the buried truth that my Western lifestyle is built on the backs of those who labour in poor countries to fill my needs. It also answered my nagging question as to where my laptop was. Quite literally on a slow boat from China – where the people are who make my clothing and the tools I use to get my job done so I can fulfill my lifestyle. People who, ironically, create these objects of opulence like personal computers, flat screen TVs, etc., but could never afford them.
Perspective Creeps In.
Sometimes life needs to be put into perspective
Who am I to complain about waiting in traffic and being able to afford a car and the luxury of driving downtown to catch a dinner and a movie? Am I really so tired of waiting for the warm water to come in my shower while many folks are lucky to bathe once a week and in some places in the world, have to a walk an hour to get a jug of water for their entire family? Am I really more tired than blessed to be the dad of a healthy toddler whose biggest frustration is not being able to tell us clearly if he wants cheese or milk?
Sometimes it is good to compare, because it puts life into perspective. My petty little annoyances pale in comparison to the life struggle so many people face daily. After all, at the end of the day my computer does arrive; I have electricity to run it on a planet where 1.3 Billion people don’t have access to electricity, and I write this using voice dictation software and go to bed in a warm house and safe country. It’s very hard to complain of how slow email can be; in fact, it’s almost absurd.
I caught myself slipping into the entitlement of a “me first” world view. Where our wake-up reality checks come from is not as important being open to the gift of humble insight into how good life is. If there ever comes a day when I’m truly tired of that, then I have really lost the plot.
Here are 3 ways to move from peeved to pleased when playing the waiting game.
Turn anxiety into anticipation.
Rather than being tired of waiting and creating anxiety and annoyance, try treating everything as a Christmas gift. The day after my daughter’s fourth birthday at the end of November, she asked me if tomorrow was Christmas. Of course, I had to explain to her that it was almost a month away. She rolled her eyes and gestured with her hand and proclaimed , “Christmas is my favourite time of year!” How many things are we waiting for that we can look forward to, if we have the wide-eyed anticipation of a child?
Live in the moment with a grateful heart.
A grateful heart is a light heart. It’s our choice every day whether we count our blessings or our annoyances. Try a simple activity the next time you get a credit card bill in the mail. Before you rip the envelope open and look at the amount due, write down on the envelope as many things you can think of to be thankful for that this credit card has allowed you to purchase or share. Then when you open the envelope with a grateful heart, you know everything is worth waiting for.
Compare yourself to others.
If we truly take in the big picture and honestly compare and contrast our “troubles” in relative terms, then our miserable lot doesn’t seem so bad. As the dad of a frustrated toddler trying to get heard, I was deeply moved by the photo in the paper of a dad holding his toddler son on the eve of the cease-fire in Gaza. He is pictured holding his son in one arm and making a peace sign with the fingers of his other hand. I complain if my little boys cries of frustration as he struggles to communicate whether he wants milk or cheese. This dad just spent the last two weeks comforting his son’s cries as a bombs rained down around him and his family. By every measuring stick, when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world, the other 4/5ths, or about 5 billion people, we will almost certainly come out better off.