I was walking home with my newspaper the other morning when I got a flashback to when I was a young boy walking to Johnstown National School, or riding a bad bicycle to Delvin or Collinstown. I remembered how I devised a plan to fool myself into making the long road shorter and to take the pain out of a hard journey.
I focussed on some landmark up ahead that I could see. This might be a tree, a pile of sand, or a field gate. I concentrated on each such milestone until I reached it, before then picking another one further ahead. I told myself that I only had to do this little bit before my journey commenced and this way the full distance I had to travel never bothered me. I only had to dwell on what I could see in front of me. I invented a name for these markers along my road: I called them “waits”, because I waited until I got to the “wait” before having to think about the rest of my hike.
For fifty years I had forgotten about the word “waits” until that morning walk out of Delvin last week. Maybe it isn’t the most appropriate or sophisticated word for what I was trying to accomplish; but for a ten years old kid, I think, looking back, it showed some ingenuity into how to cut the problem down to bite size.
It is not the road we travelled yesterday, or the path we are on right now that really burdens us; it is the worry of what lies ahead in front of us. We should continue to make ‘waits’ for ourselves every day even now when we are big boys and girls – especially in these difficult Covid times.
Worrying about the road ahead, when we cannot see around the next bend, is a futile waste of time and energy. Sure we have to know the direction we are going and plan for the journey, but we should only actively concentrate on the bit we can see – until we arrive at the next ‘wait’. Living for the now is the secret of contentment.
There are a couple of million sober alcoholics in AA across the globe and the principal reason for this success is simply living one day at a time. Park that apprehension and worry which is not today’s problem, and what do you get? Freedom, that’s what.
My favourite example of all ‘waits’, is that of the Bumble Bee. This clumsy ol’ insect has baffled science because he should not be able to fly. His body is too heavy for his light wing-span. How-and-ever, nobody fully explained this to the bee, so he flapped one wing, then the other and decided he would go as far as a ‘wait’, and off he took up into the air
Johnny Cash had a hit song entitled, “One piece at a time.” The song told the story of a Detroit car worker who built his own car at home from stealing one piece from the assembly line every day. Every car piece he took out in his lunch-box was another ‘wait’ on the way.
Times are undoubtedly stressful at the moment and we need a ‘wait’ every day to help us on our way. Don’t wish any of your life past your ‘wait’. Live now and don’t put it on hold until the vaccine comes or no more lockdowns. Living way off in the future is neither sensible nor possible. It is not how we plan or worry about the future which will dictate how it will pan out. Embrace home confinement if you have to – but live.
Making do and making things last has its compensations in giving personal satisfaction in what you can save. Remember that many struggling families, who long for this pandemic to end, will still look back on it as happy days, as long as they only bite off what they can chew each day. I remember watching a TV interview many years ago given by Hector Grey, one of the most successful traders ever in this country: Hector said he looked back on the days when he was struggling as the happiest time of his life.
Yes, there are dreadfully sad stories out there of how families have been damaged and in dire need of assistance – I know some of them. I don’t wish to down-play the horror of Covid, nor its related hardships: But, with the first shoots of next Spring will come new hope. We will be OK. As a people we will go on for another day at a time, making ‘waits’ for ourselves where we need them along the road back.
True patriotism is your conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it.