The Work and the Wait

I spent this past weekend in New York City catching up with friends, some I hadn’t seen in years. Each friend that I met up with had some new and exciting thing on the horizon, some thing it felt like the Universe had been tinkering away at for eons in a backyard shed, handcrafting to perfection to deliver right on time just for my friend. One landed her dream job at one of the most prestigious museums in the world, one has the opportunity to move cross country and change careers, one just patented a product that a major corporation wants to license, one is starting an amazing grad school program, and on and on. With each new success shared with me, I felt more and more excitement and joy for them.
For years I was often only fake happy for people when good things happened to them. I lived in a state of jealousy and fear. I wanted what you had even if I didn’t want it, and whatever it was, I was too afraid to do the work to get it. Now I’ve never been a stranger to hard work (I love my strong work ethic), but there’s hard work for others and there’s hard work for yourself. I’d work myself to death for someone else but wouldn’t put in five minutes for myself. It was easy to be jealous of others and afraid of their successes; I had invested no time or energy in myself. I was last on every list I made. I wanted the world but was too terrified to go out and create it. It was easier to help others realize their dreams and then resent them for it.
Action and patience. Those are the magic ingredients. That’s what each of my friends had running through their stories. That’s what the Universe is carving out and sanding down in that backyard shed. The work and the wait are happening at the exact same time. Action is just a more productive type of waiting. It is simply the thing shortening the gap between dreams and reality, the thing forcing us to stay in the now when it seems we’re always looking to get to later.
When I started matching jealousy with action and fear with patience, I started to feel true, genuine happiness for others and for myself. When I stopped shining a light on what I felt like others had that I lacked, the lack began to disappear. When I started working as hard for myself as I did for others, I felt more joy for others because I was beginning to understand what it took to get there. I can go back to that jealous and fearful place quickly when I’m tired or anxious, frustrated or lonely, but action and patience pull me right back out again.
I found myself wanting to hear my friends' stories of opportunity and success over and over again this weekend. I wanted to hear from the people that I love that they are doing well and that they are realizing their dreams, because each time I heard it, it was like getting a wink from my own dreams, saying, “You’re up, kid. You’re up.”