We’re always waiting for the end.
Where did we go wrong? Can we blame Friday? Did it start with TGIF: Thank God It’s Friday? The truth is it’s not just Friday we’re waiting for.
I was reminded of this recently by my five-year-old son. Having been in school since September, he’s already recognized the program the rest of the teen and adult population are on: How many more days until Friday?
Then, once he learns to tell the time, it won’t just be Friday he’s looking forward to; it will be the time school ends each day. At that point, he will be like everyone else who is already looking forward to the end of every workday. And, guess what? As soon as Friday comes, we’re looking forward to the next one. It’s a cycle that never ends.
Think back to your time in school. Don’t you remember waiting for that elusive bell to ring each day, which would indicate we could escape and go home for the evening? Some days would crawl by and others seemed to blow by. Regardless, we were always waiting for time to pass. How does this impact our mental health? How does looking toward the end of something impact our ability to focus on and be content with the present moment?
As the years passed in high school, we started looking forward to the end. However, as the end approached, did we start getting scared? Did reality start to set in when we recognized that things were going to change? That everything we knew about our schedules and routines was about to be completely overhauled?
What was next? Was it college, university, getting a job? Whatever came next, guess what followed us? The waiting game. Yes, that’s right. The years we spent in high school waiting for the end of each day, the end of each week, the end of each school year, and the end of school itself wasn’t enough. In whatever endeavor followed, so too did the waiting game.
Are we continually waiting for something in our lives to be over so that we can experience that new beginning? How long does it take for that new beginning shine to wear off?
What happens when we find ourselves a career? Do we just start counting our years of service? The years we’ve filled a certain role? Once we’ve counted a couple of decades into our career, do we start looking forward to retirement, to the end of our career?
And when we get to the end of our career, what do we look forward to then? Having played the waiting game for our entire lives, what happens next? Life continues to move forward if we’ve made it to retirement, but what are we waiting for?
And in death, there is no new beginning to look forward to in this world. What do we do then? Will we get to that point only to realize our whole lives have been one long waiting game? When death is on the horizon, will we realize we have lost the game? That the game of life was never about getting to the end.
We inadvertently made life one big waiting game instead of playing the game of life itself. What then?
It would be much better to face that reality now, at this moment. To become aware of how often we look forward to the end of something. That by looking forward to the end, we forget to enjoy the present moments we have been gifted. That right now, we can invite appreciation and gratitude into our lives; that we can play a new game where we decide the rules. A game where we know an end will come, but our focus is having fun, playing hard, and doing our best now. Forget the end; focus on now.
If we did, what a major shift we would experience in our attention, in our focus. If we invite this perspective into our lives, what will open up for us? Will we start to see things differently? Will we start to experience things differently? Will we start to FEEL things differently?
That is where I want to be. I want to be at the forefront of right here and right now, in this moment, where anything is possible.
So what can we do to change the course of our life from a bleak waiting game to one that challenges us and excites us daily?
Awareness: Now you are aware of the game we have fallen into. It is no one’s fault. Just be aware of the game we have been playing. Awareness gives us space to create and make new choices. It opens up possibilities.
Judgment: It can be easy and tempting to fall into the judgment trap. In life, some things will build you up and some will bring you down. Even thoughts or words expressed negatively about oneself and others feed back into our own lives.
Dream: We tend to leave it to the time we spend sleeping. It is time to kickstart our journeys. We need to give more thought to what we want for our lives.
Curiosity: Once you have invited dreaming and creativity into your life, get curious about the ideas you have come up with and which ones you want to do. Odds are, you have ideas you have kept putting off. Now is the time to get curious about them.
Practice: Now that you have become curious about your ideas, give them some space for exploration and expansion. Research, plan, and start taking action!
Fun: Have fun as you explore and practice these new things.
Gratitude: Practice it daily. Set aside some time before bed and write down the things you are grateful for.
This is just a start, but going down this path will open life up. The game of life is about taking chances, trying new things, seeking out new experiences, feeling intense emotions, making strong connections. Break free from the waiting game you were not aware of until now. Get back in the game of life and you will find you have got a lot of life to give.