Hanging on Hold

 In Aging, SHIFT

How many times have we been left just holding on? We experience it routinely in our telephone lives. I know of no one who enjoys this sort of limbo. In our lives there are many of these moments, and some are much more than minutes, or even days. Limbo can become a way of life. Being in limbo is no place to hang out.

If anyone has ever tallied the time lost waiting, whether on hold, in lines, or even between circumstances of our lives, it would be an astronomical sum. I realize there are ways to use the time in productive ways, however, I still consider this lost time. The activities I do while on hold are just filler for the most part. I will multi-task even though I cannot fully engage my brain in another needy situation as long as I am not able to complete the one that has me captured.

I sometimes do, however, get so engrossed in multi-tasking that I lose track of the reason I was holding. This happens when I get wound up in a corporate phone tree. I wonder if they realize that people will grow weary and hang up. It seems a bit cynical to think, but that may be why they keep callers so tied up.

I hope situations such as this do not condition us to expect that it is normal to wait exorbitant amounts of time for things to happen. This lost time can happen regarding our work and personal life. When people say they are “between” situations, is that another case of limbo? If so, it would be important for persons to be working on some kind of a plan to transition into that next place. Can we also get so caught up in a holding pattern that we forget what our goals are?

I am not indicating that there is never a time for long waits to be important. There are plenty of experiences when time waiting is  beneficial and even unavoidable in that it prepares folks for what is coming. That does apply to having a baby. From actual experience I can attest that nine months was often not long enough to be ready. I could see time between jobs and even relationships could be well spent re-structuring, retraining, and even restoring before moving on. Still there needs to be a vision for moving on, having a destination.

It seems, however, that what appeared to be transitory becomes the real deal. That would have to be a paradigm shift. What if at the end of one major thing, there is nothing “big” to take its place? I must say that retirement is just like that for me.

I used to be so necessary, so essential to the flow of life in my little arena of endeavors. There was nothing to prepare me for the reality of no longer being important in that capacity. I cannot remember reading much whiney retiree stuff that might have prepared me.

Oh, I know I was pretty much like everyone else who counts down the time to retirement with the full expectancy that good things would come when I was no longer tied down to a regular and demanding commitment. I have to admit that I even had delusions of grandeur in many directions. We were going to travel, to at last get to Europe. I would finally have the time to devote to reclaiming my body and getting more fit.

Now that the time has come, the realities are quite different. At this point, my body needs more than reclaiming, being more like needing resurrecting. Retirement pay is a challenge to live on, much less to pay for travel to exotic places. In addition, I guess I never realized that the degree of aging that occurs by the time of retirement impacts physical quality of life, regardless of the pursuits.

So, all whining aside, I hope I am at the end of my holding pattern. I do see an airstrip below. I want to get on with this phase of my life. I can only hold so long and have never done so with grace. Limbo is not my destination. It has not even been a great place to visit. Limbo is, and should be, just a pit stop.

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  • Erica, Los Angeles

    Does your limbo, perhaps, bear any metaphorical resemblance to circling a horse?…

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