A Subtle Art is Waiting.

There are estimates that we wait for several weeks of our lives in front of traffic lights and at Stop signs. We don’t notice so much because it’s chopped up into 90 second pieces.

imageThis week I’ve had the opportunity to wait – alongside my dad – as they scheduled and then delayed his triple bypass surgery when an emergency case came in.

The surgeons worked on the other person through the night. The following morning, when my Dad was supposed to be being wheeled into the operating area, he was being told to go ahead and eat breakfast, he wouldn’t be operated on today.

And we got the message when we arrived at the hospital.

There are a plethora of emotions that go through one’s head when one is told to wait. The first seems to be a moral outrage that they are less important than the other guy. The second, is accepting that they are, actually less important than the other guy.

If the other guy didn’t receive his life-saving surgery on the spot, if they said to him, “I know your heart is breaking, but we promised Matt we’d take care of him today,” how bad would we feel if the other guy didn’t make it because of the delay?

So the third emotion is a little wiggle of self-congratulations, for being such a selfless person, able to put our own needs aside to help others. We feel like nice, altruistic people, if only for a moment, because then the next emotion travels in, and that’s irritation.

We’re irritated that we’re still on the wrong end of the operation. Dad gets to eat hospital food and not feel the light breeze (or in this case, the light rain) for yet another two days. By the time it’s all over, he will have been hospital-bound for nearly a month.

We feel a background tickle of anger – at the doctors, the other patients, at the world, for interrupting our plans, but we try to push that anger away as it serves no purpose whatsoever. But we still feel it, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

And the whole thing is wrapped up in resignation. We were never in control. It was always the doctors in control. We are subject to their whims and fancies – and we imagine all kinds of whims and fancies for them!!

So, for us (mostly for my Dad) it’s “roll on, Monday,” so we can get the operation out of the way and move into the road to recovery. An entirely new ball game.

A Subtle Art is Waiting.
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