Someone once told me that if you can’t find joy living “in the meantime,” you won’t find joy at all.
But isn’t all of life lived “in the meantime”?
Think about something you yourself are waiting for: a vacation? a new job? to finish a project? to finally reach your ideal weight?
Or perhaps you’re waiting for pregnancy or parenthood.
For a soul mate. Or a friend.
Maybe you’re waiting on test results. Or chemo to be over. Or healing.
Or life–in one form or another–to resurrect.
Whatever you’re waiting for, I think it helps to know there’s actually a rhythm to most “meantimes.” You know this if you’ve ever experienced, say, a power outage during a storm. Like this:
Having grown up in the Midwest, I was used to tornadoes: they form quickly, move quickly, touch down, devastate, and move on. Hurricanes, however, are a different story, as I have learned after living in Virginia for a while: you know they’re coming days and days ahead of time. This gives everyone plenty of opportunity to prepare for and obsess about the impending doom.
Just as challenging—if not more so—than the actual hurricane is the aftermath.Following are the brief chronicles of one such storm at our house. Perhaps you can relate:
–Sit in house ALONE, while storm howls, since husband went far away to a FOOTBALL
— Power goes out.
— Feel like Ma on Little House on the Prairie, when Pa has to forge ahead into the blizzard
to find food for the family (not, however, go to a FOOTBALL GAME).
–Begin to clean up debris in yard; dump it in driveway.
–Visit extensively with neighbors who are also cleaning up debris.
–Want shower, but no running water.
–Need to use bathroom, but no running water.
–Go in woods.
–(Feel like Ma again.)
–Eat lunch: peanut butter and dry cereal (can’t open fridge; hope that
power will come on before everything spoils).
–Talk to Mom in Indiana; so glad land line still works.
–Land line goes dead.
–Use cell phone.
–Clean up debris in driveway. Make 200 trips to dump.
–Accept invitation to use the shower of kind friends whose power just
–Drive around looking for somewhere to eat that doesn’t have a two-hour wait.
–Eat at Baja Bean Company.
–Realize eating at Baja Bean Company not a good idea when you can’t flush.
–Cell phone goes dead.
–Return home to darkness, which surrounds us like a massive, claustrophobic
–Go to church, even without power. Great service: windows up, fresh air,
birds singing, no sound system to worry about.
–Notice how people are getting to know each other better; neighbors talk
to neighbors they haven’t spoken with in weeks.
–Adversity bringing people together in wonderful spirit of helpfulness and
–Sick of comaraderie; just want to flush.
–Begin inventing fun, creative ways to go to the bathroom.
–Use Grandma Ellis’ chamber pot (get old CD’s out of it first), and dump
contents in woods.
–In afternoon, spy power trucks in neighborhood. Rejoice.
–Eat dinner with more kind friends who have electricity.
–On way home, notice that first two houses in neighborhood have lights on.
–Turn corner onto our street.
–Get tired of making trips to woods. Throw contents of chamber pot out
bathroom window into back yard. Whatever.
–Wake up at 6 a.m. to more howling winds and driving rain. Tornado
–More power outages.
–Instead of sympathizing with additional people who have no power, whine about how much longer it will take to get our lights on.
–middle of the night: Ben tired of propriety when it comes to “no flushing”:
goes out into front yard to take care of business TOTALLY WITHOUT BENEFIT
–Around midnight, bored out of my mind, decide to get creative with camera, and take pictures of household objects in candlelight. Beautiful. Especially the flaming fake deer head which by day looks pretty darn tacky, but by candlelight morphs into something quite lovely.
–Rumor afloat: The power won’t be on for another four
weeks…maybe never, ever.
–4 p.m.: lights come on. Run around house flushing
toilets just to hear the sound.
Honestly, these rhythms of waiting for the power to return aren’t really much different for an outage than they are when we’re waiting for just about anything else.
There’s hope, then despair;
excitement, then boredom;
fear, then peace;
“Oh no!” followed by “Thank you, God!” followed by “How long, O Lord?”
And always, there’s the opportunity to stop and notice that something ordinary has become kind of lovely in a different light.
So how can we make a proactive adventure out of the meantime?
Try doing something that brings you joy–like experiencing a little camaraderie with friends.
Embrace some wonder in front of you–like a flaming fake deer head. It may look different in the darkness of waiting, but it’s still there, in all of its fairly lovely glory.
Boldly venture out of your box to find creative ways to do the mundane and necessary–like target practice in the back yard with a chamber pot.
Or even moseying out to the front yard naked and unafraid.
Whatever helps until the lights come on.
If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…