On the other hand, it’s nice to know that waiting – and all the anxiety and sadness it brings – has always been part of the electoral process.
Waiting is all we have done this year.
Waiting for test results.
Waiting for vaccines.
Waiting to meet loved ones.
Waiting for things to get better.
We have a penchant for instant gratification
There are two reasons why this waiting is particularly painful.
First, we tend to be immediately satisfied.
If someone has the money to spend and the means to get it, we are used to getting exactly what we want when we want it.
This instantaneousness is the foundation of our commerce and our lives. It is priced high, leading to the illusion that money and power can make anything appear in thin air.
But we have to hold our breath
But money cannot buy our election results, and it cannot buy our way out of whatever problems this year has come to us.
But in the end, a virus cannot be praised, persuaded or paid to go away, and it can take months before a viable solution appears, let alone put to use. .
In particular, we have been told that we may not be released immediately after the long months of political domination that have led us to the fulcrum of this presidential election.
And yet, we held our breath until our face was pale.
Because we don’t like to wait. Because we want it to end. Because it feels like everything is happening at the same time, but nothing yet.
We are no longer in control
Adjacent to our habit of instant gratification is the very American idea that we are architects of our own destiny.
“We are used to making decisions about how our lives work, when we do things, where we go. Reliance on an external process can be difficult.”
Our habits have been changed
Above all, when we have to wait for things, we are comforted by at least knowing when they will happen.
The numbers, the date calendar, the holidays, and the schedule organize the movement of our lives, mapping out the destinations ahead.
Baseball starts in April. We will be planning a trip this summer. School is studying. Election day is in November. Church on Sunday. We will meet on Thanksgiving.
The inner sense of time is deeply ignored, it’s not just the uncertainty surrounding the key questions – about our presidencies, about our financial future, about our health. – keep us awake at night.
It is the deeper worry of not knowing when these moments will happen.
Time has no meaning. Without these familiar frames of reference, without a sense of control over the future, the act of waiting becomes a painful chase with no apparent end.
But waiting can save us
But this waiting, which we do so badly, may be what saves us.
After all, the main reason things like voting and medical breakthroughs take time is because they’re so important to mess up.
In the days since the election, proponents of all political tendencies have come together behind a single message: Every legitimate vote must be counted.
Likewise, the successful development of a coronavirus vaccine requires careful, scientific rigor and careful scrutiny – all the impossible and not in a hurry.
And the fact is, even a successful vaccine is not an immediate and widespread fix. Medical experts around the world have advised that we cannot hope for a single remedy.
In these moments of suffering, we can see what patience really is like: Not a passive state, but a practice in itself.
Instead of feeling helpless, we can encourage doing things the right way, not quickly. We can protect the ballot. We can keep each other safe.
We can wait.