- opening line of “A Tale of Two Cities”, by Charles Dickens
Well, it ain’t exactly Dickens, but please allow me to share with you the following tale of two corridors…
I was moseying down (that’s “walking”, for y’all non-Texans in the audience) a fairly long hallway at my workplace the other day (see the photo on the right) when I noticed an interesting phenomenuh an interesting phenominom something unusual.
As I gradually approached the double doors at the end of the corridor (it’s that small black square waaay down there), it almost seemed as though, instead of getting closer, the hallway was growing longer. An optical illusion, to be sure, but still a bit disconcerting. Only as I finally neared the end did everything sorta go back to normal again. (Of course, “normal” in my world is a relative term – but that’s an entirely different skillet o’ catfish.)
Needless to say, it was an odd little bit of perspective shift – almost claustrophobic, if you know what I mean. Strange.
Another day, another corridor, this one on the way to the company cafeteria…
Not surprisingly, there was a distinctly different feel to this one. Unlike that other weird, Twilight-Zone-esque corridor, this one engendered no odd sense of eternity stretching out before me. This time it was just a pleasant walk. (Of course, the prospect of, y’know, food at the end may have had something to do with it. Just sayin’.)
So what was the difference?
Well, obviously one big difference is the fact that the second corridor is lined with windows, right? Not only does the outside view make the corridor “feel” bigger, but the scenery is a lot more interesting.
Also, I think the vertical window frames serve as a sortof, well, let’s call it a “progress meter” (at least to the subconscious mind, anyway), silently ticking the moments by as I made my way down its length (the two corridors are pretty much the same length. Unlike the first corridor, which seems like a gray, almost unbroken tunnel, this one is light and cheery with, as I mentioned before, something delicious at the end of it.
By now you’re probably wonderin’ to yourselves just what the heck this all has to do with the price of a side o’ beef in, say, Timbuktu. Well, I guess the best answer is, “Not much.” On the other hand, though, thinkin’ of these two corridors did make me reflect a bit on life, the universe, and… well, you get the picture, right?
If your life is anything like mine, you’ve surely experienced a period of waiting at some time or another. Yep; thought so. Sometimes it feels almost like life is a nothing but a never-ending series of momentary events, preceded by periods of restless waiting, doesn’t it?
Take job-hunting, for instance (please!) I’ve done my share of it, and every time it’s the same thing: work like mad to generate job leads, send a stream of resumes out to even the remotest of possibilities, and no matter what, leave no stone unturned in that quest for employment.
The biggest problem with this sort of thing is, it’s really hard to tell if you’re getting anywhere! Kinda like moseyin’ down that first corridor, y’know? Trust me, I know; most folks have been there too. You’re walkin’, walkin’, and still walkin’ – but you can’t tell if you’re makin’ any headway. In fact, it may even seem like you’re losing ground.
Conversely, other times the job hunt has progressed relatively steadily. From initial contact to the resume submittal, then on to that first interview, negotiation and then – employment! (sound of crowd cheering) Yeah, I’ve had that one happen, too, and when it does it’s more like that second corridor, the one with the windows, the view, and the reward at the end.
Strange how life seems to imitate art corridors, isn’t it? But still, I find it’s not the waiting that gets me down. It’s the fact that I can’t see if things are progressing. (And it’s not just that they’re not progressing as I want them too; it’s that they don’t seem to be progressing at all.)
Sad to say, most waiting periods are like that. You get no sense of what’s happening outside of your own personal world – of the things going on behind the scenes. Whereas, if you can actually see things progressing, get some feedback from the outside world – well, it makes the passing of time and the waiting a whole lot easier, don’t you think?
What to Do?
Anyhoo – I brought all this up to offer an encouraging word or two, should you happen to actually be in a waiting period right now (uh, is anyone not?)
First of all, suffice it to say I know exactly how you feel, and it ain’t no fun, I can tell ya. The good news is, there are some things you can do to help alleviate that stretched-out eternity feeling.
Don’t shut your spouse out. OK, obviously, if you’re not married then this one won’t apply to you. But if you are, then you have a built-in support mechanism from someone who once said they’d be there for you through thick and thin. It never ceases to amaze me how many folks (sadly, we men are especially guilty of this one) would rather try and “work things out” for ourselves. It stems from a feeling that by admitting we’re troubled we’ll appear weak or something. Hey, I’ve been there; I know. All I can say is, if you’re blessed with a spouse who loves you, then share your life with ‘em – all of it. Trust me when I tell you it can be truly rewarding!
Keep in touch Â with your friends. I’ve noticed it over the years, and I bet you have too: having a friend to talk to makes time pass a whole lot faster than if you’re spending it all alone. Especially if you’re spending your time alone thinkin’ oh, woe is me! (Been there!) If you’re in the waiting room, find a friend to spend some time with. If you don’t have a handy friend, go make a new one! Even better, find a friend who’s down in the dumps and, instead of you both sobbing into your root beers, try passing along an encouraging word or two. Nothing dispels self-absorption like lifting the spirits of someone else!
Learn something new. One of the things I promised myself long ago was to never stop learning new stuff. Whether it’s discovering photography, learning to appreciate Masterpiece Theater, or finally getting good at juggling chainsaws (better make sure your Life Insurance is paid up for that one!), it’s always a good thing to expand your brain into new pathways. A bonus: you’ll be surprised how it’ll give you new insights into all those old challenges, too. And there’s nothin’ like stirrin’ up the little gray cells now and then to breathe fresh air into otherwise stagnant thinking.
Keep on walkin’ Bubba! (Or if you’re in Texas, keep on moseyin’.) Put this one in blazing letters a foot high, my friend! The worst thing you can do is… stop. Stop trying, stop learning, stop talking – to stop living. Hey, waiting is one thing – we all end up there sooner or later. But stopping is a whole ‘nuther animal altogether. Keep doin’ what you know to do, and never lose hope. Trust that outside of your perception, outside of that dark, long corridor, things really are happening. Use your imagination and put some windows in that long, dark corridor you’re traveling. (OK, no more metaphors, I promise!) You have to believe that and keep goin’ with all your heart because, in fact, it’s true! One thing we can all agree on is that life is all about change, and change happens all the time, all around us. Just because you can’t see it happening…
This Too Shall Pass
Just remember, Bubba; these things haven’t come to stay in your life. Nope, they’ve come to pass. And in passing, we grow.
Are you in life’s waiting room at the moment? Then join the crowd! Trust me; you’re not the Lone Stranger in here – not by a long shot! In fact, at the moment, I’m right there with ya! (Why not come on over and we’ll visit a spell? Just look for the hat.)
Care to tell us about it? What other techniques have you learned over the years that have helped you – and maybe can help the rest of us as we wait? Take a moment, why don’t you, and share ‘em with us down there in the comment box. Hey, we’ll surely thank you!