There’s this quote from All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy that has been totally haunting me this year:
“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”
Have truer words ever been written?
That sentence is a bit glum on first reading. A lot of the things McCarthy writes are glum, but as I’ve turned this sentence over and over in my head, I see some hope in it. He says “the world lies waiting.” We’re all in this waiting thing together. So, so much of life is waiting for something we want to happen, and you’re not alone in that. I’m here with you. The world, we’re all here with you.
I thought about this quote while I was working out last night. I go to this class called Beatbox, and it is really hard. At least, it is for me, and I think it is for everybody else in there too because we are all really sweaty and breathing heavily at the end and talking about how hard/good it was.
The class is an hour long and as soon as it starts, I anticipate its ending. From the first minute, I’m so excited for the class to be over and to be doing the cool down song because working out is hard.
But you know what happens between the beginning of Beatbox and the end of Beatbox? Beatbox. The actual exercising part happens. Without the middle part there would be no sense of satisfaction at the end. There would be no reason to anticipate the ending because no work would have been done, and I would have nothing to feel proud or healthy about.
I want to start viewing the place “between the wish and the thing” like a Beatbox class. It is hard and difficult, the waiting part. It can leave you breathless, hopeless (just watch me try and do a real push-up) and discouraged. The middle part, also known as most of life, is hard, but deep down somewhere we know that our anticipation for the thing, whatever your thing is, will be meaningless without the wait. It will feel empty and unsatisfying.
Things happen during the waiting. We change. We are stretched and we grow.
What are you lying in wait for? How long has it been? Are you on the brink of giving up? I get it. I get that. Some things we lie in wait for take days. Some things take years. But if we can fight the bitterness, if we can lean on something bigger and more powerful than our own weak selves, we will turn around one day and see that during the tension, we were formed into a person with stronger, deeper, more loving, understanding and patient stuff.
The space between the wish and the thing is where we should want to be. For it is during the tension, and not at the end once the thing is achieved, that we are becoming who were meant to be all along.