Writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “How much of human life is lost in waiting.” This appeared in an essay that he wrote in 1841 titled “Prudence.”
It’s a good question. It seems we’re always waiting for something.
Waiting in line at the grocery store, fast food drive-thru and pharmacy. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting on hold with someone we’re trying to reach on the phone. Waiting for our dinner at the restaurant. Waiting for our television shows to come back on the air during commercials. Waiting to hear back on a job interview. Waiting in traffic. Waiting for the time-outs to be over in a sporting event. Waiting for an airplane to arrive. Waiting for surgery on a loved one. Waiting for our DoorDash delivery. Waiting for our husbands to finally figure out how to clean the house…(talk about a LONG wait).
So how much of our lives IS lost while we are waiting?
According to a 2019 article from the Daily Mail, we spend seven hours of our lives waiting for things – or about 11 percent of our lives. At least that’s what they said about the Britons. Americans could spend even more time waiting with all of the short-staffing going on everywhere these days.
The time we spend waiting during our lives, according to the Daily Mail article, includes three months waiting to use the bathroom, 4.5 months being on hold on the phone, 17 months waiting for food to be cooked, 13 months waiting for kids, and 6.5 months waiting for our partners.
It also said that we spend 3.7 months at traffic lights. What are people doing during that time? Probably doing something on their cell phones – checking the weather, texting or searching the internet. In Michigan, they had better do it fast because starting Friday, they won’t be able to use their cell phones while driving anymore after the legislators banned the practice.
Time is what you make of it. Waiting makes some people crazy and irate and – others see it as an opportunity to have some down time or get something done in the meantime and be productive. The Mother Nurture website offers tips on what to do while you are waiting. Their list includes listening to a podcast, cleaning up your email inbox, writing up your grocery list, meditating, writing a card or letter, or reading a real book. For some of us, there is always SOMETHING to do – so why not do it while you’re waiting on something else?
He probably figured out that quote while he was waiting for something.
Adam Gurian, president of Timex says, “Time is our most precious commodity…” and then he throws in an advert by saying, “Of course, wearing a watch can help all of us manage our time, and lower our stress levels.”