Delayed

Dear Keatsway,

I sit in a black leather plushy chair of an oversized waiting room. I am not sure when I’ll be done but I imagine it will be soon. Until then I’ll pass the time writing you a letter.

I’m in a car dealership (for repairs, not car buying), but if I blink I could be back at my gate in O’Hare. Except here there is free coffee–arguably not as good as Starbucks–and there are cars instead of airplanes on display.

Three weeks ago, en route from Toronto, I sat on a leather stool next to a rain splattered window drinking Argo tea, pen and journal in hand, looking out at aircraft carriers. I wished the moment could last forever. Someday soon I hope to be waiting in an airport on my way to see you. I have not, however, always felt this way about delays or waiting itself.

I feel like I am always waiting –to find my next apartment, to pursue my dreams, for the workday to be over, for the weekend to come, and then for the next weekend. Waiting for the answers to my increasingly long list of questions about the meaning of life, and learning to be OK with the space in between. The space where I act out several possibilities to my question, or sit back and wonder what my next move should be.

Waiting in an airport has no clear starting or ending point. You just can’t predict when the delay will happen and you have to be prepared to change plans and be flexible. To remain undeterred by a detour and not waste energy being angry or frustrated. To become creative and spontaneous with your time and your new plan of action.

After a year of plane delays I have finally discovered the secret to not becoming discouraged by them–accepting them completely, and finding a pleasant way to wait it out. Sometimes it’s as simple as staying nourished with healthy food, finding a quiet place to rest, discovering a new perspective, and seizing the opportunity to work on cherished pastimes–like reading or writing. Always ready to pick up everything at a moment’s notice when the plane finally does depart, and practicing patience and fortitude when it doesn’t.

As I put my plans of graduate studies, and living abroad on hold, I am trying to apply the same lesson I learned here. To decide not to waste energy on discouragement or resisting reality. Instead accept it as a necessary part of the process, embody grace and peace, and be inventive and endlessly flexible.

Maybe this delay is reminding me that it’s the journey and not the destination that counts? Keatsway, how do you handle delays?

Yours with best wishes,

Brightstar

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Between certainties and doubts

Dear Brightstar,

Lately, I am a ricochet.  This past week has been tense as I am alternatively excited at my present state—unattached, free, and on the precipice of a grand adventure I can’t yet name—and bitter fear and regret that I have already failed in life. That I am unemployed and a burden on my family without future prospects.

“God, how I ricochet between certainties and doubts.”          -Sylvia Plath

Sometimes I can feel these two thoughts within the same 5 minutes. This is not a fun state to live in. Even remaining in one state or the other would be preferable to constantly rebutting across the emotional spectrum.

Self-doubt could be as aspect of my temperament or upbringing. Or it could be a reality of the condition I now find myself as a recent graduate without a set path to a job. Regardless of the reason, these fears are deeply affecting my life now. Furthermore, I cannot expect that my fears will be answered anytime soon. If anything, there could be years of uncertainty ahead.

“I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh 1888

Van Gogh’s words suggest that knowing is overrated. Those things that are timeless [tall grass grazing your feet, imperious mountains, streaming water, ocean waves and the stars at night] can be certainties. However, the majority of one’s day (and week and years and life) will consist of uncertainly and unanswered questions.

Van Gogh’s quote is not an answer but it can be a comfort. With no answer to my doubts all I can do is to embrace those things that are certain— that I have invested in great friends, that I have accomplished my goals for school and education,  that I have traveled far for my age. There may not be a choice to either exist in certainty or doubt but if I learn to accept that these conditions can overlap I will at least stop ricocheting.

I will use starlight to light the certainties I can know and try to be less afraid of the dark by comparison. Without darkness after all, there could be no starlight.

Yours with my best wishes,

Keatsway