At the end of nearly every yoga class I teach, I say: "Each thought your brain is telling you that you should think right now -- it can wait. It'll still be there in a few moments, so give yourself permission to be quiet and still for just a minute or two. Everything else can wait."
Natalie Goldberg, a Buddhist writer and speaker, also says this: “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.”
Nothing is that important. Everything can wait. If your inclination is to disagree, you're probably not alone. I mean, tons of things are important! Many things cannot wait. We put busy-ness, multi-tasking, follow-through, getting shit done, to-do lists, apps that make us more efficient and more on pedestals, and trust me, I like all of the above just as much as you do. I crave feeling accomplished and important and needed. Hashtag #givemeallthegoldstars should be my life motto.
One thing I keep hearing, especially as I enter the last month of pregnancy, is the sentiment of "can't wait." I think to myself, I can't wait until the baby is here, I can't wait to be done being pregnant, I can't wait to know what being a mom is like. My parents and in-laws talk about the fact that they can't wait to meet their grandchild. My sisters say they can't wait to meet the baby. My coworkers ask if I can't wait to be done being pregnant. My friends say that can't wait to know if it's a girl or boy.
It comes up a lot outside of pregnancy as well. I can't wait for winter to be over; I can't wait for spring to be here. I can't wait for my vacation, promotion, raise, Friday, weekend, drink, dinner out, yoga class, run, eight hours of sleep, whatever -- literally insert whatever you want. In a recent yoga class, my friend K talked about the "I'll be happy when . . . " complex -- you know, that thing we all do. At coffee this morning, my friend Emily and I chatted about how often we race past the middle parts of stories; we hear about the big wins and the starting lines and the successes but we crave more information about the meaty center. I told her how I read a story this week about our cultural fixation on "happily ever after," how, we're quick to point to Bob and Mary who've been together for 10 years and are a perfect match . . . minus that one year they hated each other's guts and almost separated. Or we glorify the start-up that makes millions of dollars and solves key problems . . . minus the ten times it almost went under due to lack of funding and vision. Or we compare ourselves to the famous writer with a huge following and five published books . . . minus the fifteen years of rejection letters she or he received along the way.
We are a culture that can't wait, ever, and we always want to get to the next thing.
A friend sent me an article about how the last days of pregnancy are a place of in-between. The author, Jana Studelska CPM/LM, writes, "One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world. Shouldn't there be a word for this state of being? Germans have a word, zwischen, which means between."
She then goes on to describe how she's co-opted that phrase as a midwife to help mothers give reverence to this particular part of pregnancy. She notes that when pregnant mamas complain, people are fast to say things like "Cheer up, you'll get a baby by the end of all this!" and that approach is actually kind of harmful because it doesn't acknowledge the significance of the waiting itself.
Which I get. Who wants to wait? When I look back at every period of my life that involved waiting, I immediately remember feelings of confusion and cloudiness and lack of control -- none of which is typically desirable. And yet, during all the waiting, I was still living my life. I don't want to always be rushing from one highlight to the next. I don't want my eyes and heart to get stuck ahead in the future instead of honoring what's directly in front of me now. I don't want to wish away the tiny moments of my days only to get to the end of a week, a month, a season, a year, and muse about how fast it went.
So really, I can wait until the baby comes, even though this is a huge period of anticipation. I can wait for my pregnancy to be over, because I'll never again be transitioning from not being a mother to being a mother. I can wait for maternity leave, and instead enjoy these last few weeks of pure dedication to work, sleep, reading, writing, relaxation and time spent with my husband. I can wait, and be present for my zwischen, because I know that everything else will be here soon enough.