21 Jan 2015

Go. Stop. Wait.

I'm usually pretty good at waiting for things.

Take Christmas for example. Even as a kid I don't ever remember wishing the year would go faster so it would be December. A couple of times when I still lived at home, my mum bought me an early Christmas present and handed it to me to use/wear right away. I handed it back and asked her to wrap it and put it under the tree (much to her amusement). I was happy just to wait.

I loved being pregnant. All our kids were born early so I never got fed up waiting around wondering when they would appear. I avoided a lot of unpleasant side effects and never got that huge with any of them, so this probably helped as well. It also felt like a really efficient use of my time to already be a mother to whoever I was carrying, yet not have to think about feeding, bathing or changing them. I just enjoyed the waiting and the lack of responsibility while they incubated.

Buying a house can be a long and complicated business. The first time we bought a house was so long ago (and in Scotland, where things are slightly more straightforward), all I remember is filling in some forms and getting the keys a few weeks later. The process wasn't particularly stressful or consuming because we were busy doing other stuff like learning to drive, finishing college and getting married.

Our most recent house purchase took much longer and concluded a 4 year rental adventure which saw us informally renting from friends, officially renting through an agency, and the unorthodox situation of turning up on the doorstep of someone I'd never met before and hugging her 30 seconds later when she handed me a key.

When we climbed back onto the property ladder, we bought a house that was not in Scotland. That took ages.

It turns out that running your own business and being considered first time buyers and cancelling a direct debit from an energy supplier who no longer supplies your energy but continues to take money from your account every month and then reports you to the credit expert people when they discover they can no longer do this gives you zero trust with many banking institutions (who collectively screwed up the whole economy and then get to question the integrity of everyone else) - who knew? And so we had to explore one or two options before finding a lender.

Even during all this I was good at waiting. We gave our finance guy all the bits of paper he asked for, chased up our accountant when we were asked for stuff we didn't yet have and reassured our finance guy every time he rung up to ask for things we hadn't given him yet by explaining that we were still waiting for them ourselves.

We were good at waiting.

The seller of our present house was buying another house nearby, and the seller of THAT house was not so good at waiting. Several weeks into the wait she infamously stormed into the estate agents in town, screamed at everyone in the office, then angrily and tearfully pulled out of her sale agreement altogether as a demonstration of 'taking control of her life again'- even though she didn't actually live in the house at the time and still really wanted to sell it.

Sometimes yelling at people who are on your side then rejecting an offer you have already accepted in order to wait for something else to come along when you have already demonstrated you are really bad at waiting feels like an empowering thing to do.

This was hilarious to me. But a small part of me identified with her.

Sometimes the best thing to do in a situation is to do nothing. To wait it out in the knowledge that external circumstances will eventually change and as a result, options will open up that are currently unavailable. At other times, action is needed like now and to do nothing is unwise or lazy or cowardly or all of the above.

I think the tension arises when the person making the decision has no clue which is the correct course of action to take and so fluctuates between both, resulting (in this instance) in a public display of hysteria in the estate agents:
• There is a problem
• Other people I trusted to fix this aren't
• I will therefore fix it myself even though this may actually balls things up even further

So sometimes it's like:
Do nothing.
It's OK - Stuff is happening that you can't see.
Please- just wait...

And other times it's like:
The time has come.
You have to go now!

• OK - so how do we know which one to go for? (in the absence of being nine months pregnant and contracting and sucking on gas and air already)?

• How to avoid doing nothing out of inertia, indecision, laziness or fear?

• And how to avoid manic activity that will only end in frustration or exhaustion because inaction is actually what's called for? To trust the stuff you can't see. To wait well. To wait patiently. To believe that one day you can and should run or hold a baby in your arms?

Travel WITH the pre cog.
And pick up an umbrella - or whatever else you're told to do.
Even if it makes no sense at the time.