Robb and I are waiting for the surgery person to come and get him for collarbone surgery. He broke it mountain biking yesterday. It needs surgery for it to heal properly. I’m his companion, driver and entertainer. He is in pain. Of course he is. We’re on the same floor with the optical department and midwifery. Lots of people wearing glasses on one end of the room, pregnant women walking in and out and people with canes and walkers and braces and slings in the middle.
Occasionally Robb winces and moans. He’s hungry (can’t eat before surgery), tired and impatient. And we’re together in this enforced immobility. His appointment is a few hours away. We talk about movies he can stream while he’s recovering at home. The sangha has been alerted and folks will bring food and offer rides and companionship.
I remind him of old age, sickness and death. He chuckles. He’s a nurse. He knows. People here are reading or sitting on their phones. So much of the time, we find ourselves waiting. We wait in airports. We wait in line at the supermarket. We wait for a pump at the gas station, we wait for spring to arrive after a dreary winter.
A benefit of waiting is an opportunity to see how we are attending to the pauses in our lives. How do we wait? Do we feel that it is a waste of time? Do we search for something, anything to do? Our cell phones are ubiquitous distractions. Do we feel angry or sad or frustrated? Do we want to escape? How will we do that?
As we sit here, we observe those around us, all with their thoughts and troubles. We are a part of this community waiting for their glasses or a visit to the midwife or an evaluation with the orthopedic department. Are we waiting to get on with our lives because this is not our lives. This is a disruption that we want to get through as quickly as possible. Or is it an opportunity to practice with our lives as they are, right now.