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Taking note: The long wait

The late-afternoon mix of natural and artificial light was setting in, casting a glow upon the airport concourse and its endless stretch of gleaming tiles.

I was just about to follow the long line of shining tiles to my gate when my phone lit up with a notification. My flight was delayed. Again. Another couple of hours to pass during an already long layover.

Another couple of hours tacked on to my initially anticipated arrival time.

And although this was a few years ago now, I still remember that I couldn’t help but make a bit of a face at this news.

I was starting to feel restless, surrounded by these massive spaces, the constant arrivals and departures, all the people rushing from one place to the next, while I stayed still.

I was grateful to be in a comfortable chair near an outlet in a little atrium. It’s a blessing to be in this spot right now, rather than near the crowded gates, I thought to myself.

But the long hours of reading and attempting to work on my laptop were starting to wear thin with the knowledge that more time still laid ahead of me.

I packed up my things and decided to take a walk around the terminal. It was time to explore the endless line of storefronts, restaurants and gates.

Strangely enough, I’ve always enjoyed a little bit of airport sightseeing.

I always seem to find something I haven’t seen before: An art installation, a sculpture, a train that travels between terminals, an odd little shop or restaurant, or even concourses with their own distinct themes.

And this time, just as I was feeling a twinge of regret about an entirely unnecessary walk with a heavy backpack and suitcase, I stumbled upon something that delighted me.

As I descended an escalator, I found myself in a large, seemingly-underground passage filled with moving walkways and shining tiles.

The walls and ceiling were a rainbow of lighted panels, endlessly reflected off of the gleaming tiles in the low light.

It was the whole spectrum of colors, underground.

Bright neon lines hung from the ceiling to complement the rainbow panels. Blues fading into greens. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.

I couldn’t believe I’d never stumbled upon this passageway before on previous explorations of this airport.

But here it was, just for me, when I needed it the most.

When I needed something beautiful and surprising to focus on during this long wait.

Moments like this remind me just how much of life is passing the time while we wait.

And we spend a lot of time waiting: Waiting for that delayed flight, waiting for seasons to change, waiting for life to change.

It can seem like life is a whole waiting game if we let it be that way.

But it’s what we do in these periods of waiting that defines us.

Do we languish and find ourselves anxious, exhausted or unhappy as we await the next step?

Or do we make the most out of the wait? Do we find a way to make the present enjoyable or at least productive?

It matters what we do while we wait. How we spend the moments between steps.

Some people describe music as being made up of the spaces between notes. Maybe life is like that too. The waiting periods, the long silences, the gaps, are perhaps what fills out the song of life and makes it palatable, whole, important.

Because life is made of those in-between moments: The little conversations, the cups of coffee, the scribbled doodles, the gazes off into the distance and even walks around the airport that lead to passageways filled with light and color.

Despite this, we don’t always handle waiting very well, especially if we don’t assign the in-between moments their own value.

But if we have the right tools and the right mindset, at our disposal, we can try to make these in-between periods more meaningful, happier, better.

We can keep moving forward, even if what we await still hasn’t arrived.

We can put one foot in front of the other.

We can take it step by step, a few seconds at a time, enjoying the moment for what it is.

Because we just might discover something unexpectedly beautiful and illuminating while we wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is The Mining Journal’s city editor. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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