Yesterday I bought a Christmas tree at the hardware store. I thought it was a good day to do it both because I’d heard the rumors of Christmas tree shortages and because it would keep me away from my email for more than an hour—a near record in the last two weeks.
No one tells you, when you start writing, that it involves a lot of waiting. I have sent the manuscript of my first novel off to someone, and it feels as if 30 minutes or so should be plenty of time to read 300 pages. It doesn’t seem to work that way. So I’m waiting and, while I do, I’m remembering all the times in the past when I have waited.
Life used to involve a lot more waiting. I waited for long-distance phone calls (isn’t that a funny expression?) and letters (who gets those anymore?) and for people to arrive by car before they could call to say they were just around the corner.
I remember going to the mailbox more than once in a day, thinking the mail must surely have arrived before it actually did. I remember opening an empty mailbox, looking down the street for the mail truck, not seeing it, and heading back to the house to wait another hour.
Now, I am watching my email with a familiar obsessiveness and, once again, I am remembering that waiting is not fun.
Of course, incurable optimist that I am, I try to reframe it.
“Aren’t I lucky to have something exciting to wait for?” I ask myself, as if I were an impatient four-year-old waiting for a marshmallow. My inner four-year-old is not fooled. I may not get a marshmallow, and I know it.
“Isn’t waiting just a form of happy anticipation?” I ask myself cheerfully, willfully denying the gut-twisting, sleep-defying effect the waiting has on me. My gut knows better. There is nothing pleasant about this.
So far, my attempts to make waiting fun have failed. So far, the best I can come up with is that it’s better than the alternative.
We wait for births and special visits and big changes and holidays and news, both good and bad. Waiting is the bridge between then and now, between now and what happens next. Waiting is essential and, as painful as it is, it would be a very dull life if there was nothing worth waiting for.
So, I am waiting.
Advent is the season of waiting, so at least my waiting seems seasonal. I decided not to drive to the hardware store, but wheeled my cart there, picked out a handsome little tree, strapped it into my cart and headed home.
I got a few surprised looks. I hadn’t realized it was unusual to wheel a Christmas tree home. And while I was wheeling, a funny thing happened: I wasn’t thinking about my wait at all.
I was thinking about the challenges of keeping my cart rolling in a straight line with a Christmas tree sitting catawampus in it. I was thinking of what a beautiful day it was and what a lovely tree I had found and how kind they had been at the hardware store and, most surprisingly of all, I was thinking of things I’d like to work on—other things I’d like to write.
And I realized that when this wait has ended, no matter what happens, life will still be filled with wonderful things worth waiting for.
Then I hit a bump and had to concentrate on my Christmas tree again.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.