Back when I quit my job, we were living on the Monterey peninsula, a remote place where my life suddenly slowed way down. I knew hardly anyone, no longer had to work 72-hour call shifts, and the demand for my art slowed down as the economy faltered. My body was so used to running at 100 MPH that it literally took months for my fight-or-flight mechanisms to shut off. When they did, I suddenly heard the silence, and it freaked me out. But in time, I surrendered to the silence, came to appreciate the change of pace, and rested.
At the time, I felt this strange uncertainty. I tackled a new project - writing a book - which lent me some focus and direction for my energy, but I still had no clue where my life was going. After decades of absolute certainty (medical education is all about jumping through the hoops to get from A to B- B being a certain outcome if you dutifully complete the hoop-jumping), I suddenly had no idea what my life was about.
And so, I found myself ... waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for something BIG to happen. Waiting for a sign that I was supposed to go back to work. Waiting to get a literary agent. Waiting for a publisher to pick up my book. Waiting to decide where we should settle. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for a certain calling. Something. Anything.
Have I mentioned that I’m really bad at waiting? Think about the person in the waiting room at the doctor’s office who is tapping her foot, checking her iPhone, reading a book, hassling the desk clerk – again, and looking harried. Yup. That’s me. Bad at waiting. I wanted to fast forward through the whole process and find out where I was going to BE. Which means (you guessed it), I was definitely not living in the moment.
At some point, I started to slow down and wake up. I realized that I can BE right here, right now. That BEing doesn’t have to exist at some future point. I can BE anytime. I decided to shift the words I was using. Instead of waiting to BE, I would BECOME. The word implies an active process, a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation, even.
… and Becoming
I call those two years my Waiting and Becoming years. When the time was right, the waiting ended, signaling a whole shift in who I was, in fact, becoming. Suddenly, it once again became about the doing. But in reflecting back to that time, I realize that something really critical was happening during those Waiting and Becoming years. For lack of a better phrase, I was finding myself: reading books, reaching out to people, spending alone time thinking, and silently preparing for the person I was becoming.
The thing is, you can’t rush that process. There are no Cliffs Notes to get you through class. In fact, there’s not even a class. Often, there’s nothing to do ... except wait.
Then, when the time is right, the wheels start spinning, and next thing you know, you’re racing through life again, plundering full steam ahead, longing, wistfully, for those quiet days of Waiting and Becoming (while still trying to be here now). It's all about patience. And for me, it was a profound lesson in trust. Things didn't happen on my schedule. But they did happen- when I was ready and the time was right.
We All Must Wait
What I sense from many of you Pinkies is that you may feel tired of waiting. But speaking from my own experience, I say don’t rush it. Don’t stress about it. Don’t fight it. Stop resisting. This waiting process is vital. You must go through it. And when the time is right (you’ll know when that is), you’ll feel the shift. All the signs will align, and you will know it is once more time to move.
Until then, enjoy this time. See it for the ripe, fertile period that it is. Explore it with a spirit of adventure and anticipation. Get excited about it. You never know what you will discover while you are waiting.
What’s happening to you? Are you feeling impatient with waiting? Do you wish you could skip it and move forward? Are you discouraged or disheartened? Shift your perspective. Look for the opportunity in the waiting. Tell us what you see.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).