Friday, March 5, 2010

It all begins with One Word...

One word...is where it starts...slowly. It begins with an idea that grows into a pressing need to express oneself, and from there one word, then another, then another. Welcome to One Word Pundit! Follow me on this journey of unknowns--of ideas that meld together from random reflections to form some coherence as I write. I want to share here, an article I wrote almost 10 years ago for Linking for Learning (Quebec Association for Adult Learning's newsletter). It completely sums up this waiting that has germinated into a blog:

Wait Mode

Have you ever watched people waiting in line? Next time you stand behind someone, anticipating your turn to be served, observe this curious social phenomenon I call "wait mode." Wait mode is an altered state of consciousness characterized by a glazed-over, vacant facial expression, and accompanied by an inert posture firmly planted on a designated place in line. Your feet shuffle forward and your body moves up one painful spot at a time. And you do this mechanically.

Notice the zombie-like state of humans in wait mode. See how they stare blankly ahead, even while their children ask them questions or "misbehave." And cognizant that you are in wait mode, those keeping you waiting--clerks, salespeople, professionals and slow motorists--don't care because they know that your altered state has reduced you to a zombie. It doesn't matter to them because in this zombie-like state, you are a non-entity. However, every once in awhile, you snap out of wait mode to experience some discomfort and impatience, only to be reminded by the gatekeeper that your turn will be "soon." Placated by this simple pleasantry, you return comfortably to wait mode.

It has been said that by age 60, we have spent approximately 6 years of our lives waiting: in checkout lines, at doctor's offices, and in traffic jams (not to mention in front of the television!). The social conditioning leading up to wait mode is profound. Children don't go into this zombie-like state of consciousness as readily as we would like them to. In fact, they spend most of their childhood just learning how to wait for things. And school is the perfect training ground for this social phenomenon. Recess line-ups are mere grocery line simulations, without the added baggage. The school bus scene is a traffic jam simulator given the involvement of a vehicle. And waiting to see the Principal is preparation enough for your later encounters with any highly paid professional who will keep you flipping through outdated popular magazines to help pass the time.

The tenets of effective time management remind us that we have many options while we wait: strike up a conversation, read a book, plan ahead, do physical exercise (Imagine doing jumping jacks at the grocery checkout or sit-ups in the doctor's waiting room!). Yet somehow, we slip into wait mode as a preference, seemingly unaware of the infinitely more stimulating alternatives. This is because of the effective and ingrained social conditioning we underwent during our formative years.

Wait mode is a vast and multifaceted topic, too broad an issue to cover in one short piece. So I am preparing another article continuing the discussion. But you will have to wait for it...

2 comments:

  1. and here I am, the first to travel this path with you :) Thank you for drawing me into a little bit of your world and your awareness of your surroundings.

    Love as always
    Ta Tante

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  2. Kelly, here's my post on my overall impression on your blog. I know, it's a bit late, but you know the adage, "Better late than never." I really liked what you've done with it. And since we're both in the same boat, we'll be giving each other tips ;)

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