Time passes slowly when you’re waiting

This column originally ran on Sunday, April 12, 2020 in the Gaston Gazette.

It’s not everyday you get laid off from a job. It just seems to happen a lot more often these days. I’m not alone though. I have joined the other 6.6 million men and women in the country experiencing the same thing right now.

It’s jarring to go from working to not working. People ask what it’s like, how I am and what I’m up to. The answer is not all that exciting. In these COVID-19 times, there’s not a whole lot you can do when you’re unemployed.

Job postings are sparse. Interviews and positions are on ice. Even networking is hard to do when you are told to stand six feet apart. We’re all just sitting in limbo together, alone. All you can really do during this time is wait.

It seems to be all I do these days. In fact, I’ve gotten quite good at it. I’m either waiting for someone to respond to my unemployment claim or waiting for a banker to take my call about my truck loan, even though they tell me every six minutes that my call is very important to them.

We all are waiting for something these days. Some of us are waiting for Superman. Others of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The more free time you have, the harder the waiting is.

I figured since I’d stumbled into a windfall of free time lately, I thought I would pick up a few things from the store to keep me occupied while I wait. I decided to buy a hummingbird feeder.

What better way to pass the time than to watch hummingbirds, stopping by one at a time, for a taste of some of that sweet sugary water. Excited by the purchase, I rushed home to whip up a fresh batch of sugar water.

It didn’t take long to get the water to a boil. I then mixed in the sugar, stirred it up well and let it cool. I filled up the mason jar and hung it up outside. Then I sat down and waited for the magic to happen.

But it never did.

I went out the next day and waited again. And still, no hummingbirds.

It’s been almost a week now and the sugar water level in the mason jar hasn’t dipped at all. To my knowledge, not one hummingbird has shown up. Not even the ants have found it yet.

Desperate to attract hummingbirds, I searched online for answers. I read that one sure-fire way to attract them is to plant a Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in your yard. It’s been said that this showy red-flowered perennial is excellent at “pulling hummingbirds from the sky”.

If that doesn’t work, I can always dress up like a giant red flower and wave a sign around that advertises beakside service to all passing hummingbirds.

You laugh, but it would be one way to pass the time.

Time is a funny thing. It has a way of passing slowly when you’re actively waiting. Especially when you are waiting for life to pick back up again and get back to normal.

In these moments, answers don’t come fast enough. Neither do hummingbirds.

Albert Einstein once said that “there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I choose the latter. Life is about looking for glimmers of hope wherever they can be found. Now that’s something I can do while I wait.

In the meantime, I’ll keep looking up. Up to the sky. You can have your Superman. I’ll take the hummingbird for now, to remind me that miracles can still happen everyday.