Waiting

I don’t like waiting. It’s hard. The hardest part about waiting, for me, is that it causes self-reflection. It encourages me to sit with myself. With my thoughts. With my anxieties. With a sense of uncertainty. I don’t like to feel uncertain. I like to know where I stand. I like to know what is going to happen next. I like to be able to look ahead and plan for the next few steps. When I’m waiting for an answer, it’s hard to move ahead. When I’m waiting for an answer, it’s hard to know where I stand. When I’m waiting for an answer, I am forced to be still. Right exactly where I am.

In some ways, waiting is a good reminder. It reminds me that all of those steps I see down the line, I’m not there yet. It reminds me that the future I have in my head, I don’t have it yet. It reminds me that I am here. This is now. This is where I am.

In this line of work, there is a fair amount of waiting. I recently read something saying that, often, the most prolific artists achieve their successes in little steps more often than great leaps. I believe it. There is a gradual building process that takes time. There is waiting to release an album, waiting to hear a response from an industry fellow, waiting to schedule a phone call. Waiting until the time is right. Waiting until everything is ready. Waiting until the project is complete. Waiting and doing and waiting and doing. All of this waiting is a blessing, in its own way. Because it means that things are happening.

When you do something like make an album, waiting can be part of the process. There is waiting until all of the songs are written. There is waiting until videos are made. There is waiting until press components are ready. There is waiting until the recording date. There is waiting for the first review. There is waiting for the album to come out. There is waiting for people to hear it. What do you do during the waiting? Do you transform it into living? Time is precious and I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting any of it. When I’m feeling anxious, the time in between milestone developments feels like waiting. When I’m calm and happy, that time can be transformed into something more enjoyable and productive. A celebration of the now.

The now is valuable. The now is what we have. The now is important. In the now, you can see how much you’ve done. You can look at each step you’ve taken to get right here.

It’s easy to look ahead and envision the future you want. I credit visualization for helping me to pull into reality many of the wonderful things in my life. Part of its power is that it focuses your energy. It allows you to work harder, knowing that the thing you want could exist. It allows you to recognize the thing you want when you see it. It gives you something to work towards. But, for all the benefits of visualization, doing it all the time can build a beautiful world of possibility in your own mind. One that doesn’t exist in reality. And sometimes it takes coming back down to earth to see that the things you’re visualizing aren’t yet real. The part in between visualization and materialization is hard work. It’s putting in the effort. It’s making the moves. It’s asking. It’s waiting for the answer to come back ‘yes.’

While this kind of waiting can be hard, there’s another kind that’s much worse. That’s the kind of waiting that happens before you even begin doing that thing that you want to do.  The waiting in between exciting developments is a world of difference from the waiting that you do when you haven’t started yet. That kind of waiting is agony.

I remember a feeling that followed me around for years and years. It was a sadness. A nagging. A longing. It was the feeling I carried with me always before I committed to music. It was the feeling that there was something I was supposed to be doing and I wasn’t doing it. That waiting was torture. It felt like it lasted a hundred years. Then I started doing music. I started following my soul and following my dream. And that agonized feeling went away. This kind of waiting, the kind that I feel now, this is a gentler beast. It’s euphoric compared to that other kind of waiting. This kind of waiting means things are happening. Lots of things are happening. I’m just waiting in the in between. This waiting is a blessing. It’s a gift. And the waiting makes the getting all the more sweet.

Jackie McLean is Roan Yellowthorn. Listen to her new album Indigo