Active Waiting vs. Passive Waiting, and Why I Think Woo Woo Affirmations Are a Good Idea

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“Tinder is just for hook ups,” Erina explained to our handsome bartender as her lobster, prepared a la plancha, was set down on the bar in front of her. An older couple in salmon and white chino shorts sampled a white wine on the stools next to us, pouring the golden liquid from a tiny carafe into their glasses. Erina, who always dresses so well, was wearing a yellow and olive green, two-toned, sleeveless collared shirt she bought on her recent trip to Vietnam. Jean shorts with a brown leather belt. An R2D2 ring she picked up at Hot Topic when looking for other Star Wars stuff: “With Bumble, the girls have to send a message first,” she continued, as waiters rushed to and from tables delivering ceviche, lobster rolls, and oysters on the half shell on ice. The line of this conversation made me think: “I haven’t been online dating much lately.” A woman with a red bandanna tied around her head put oil lamps on every table top. I used to online date more. I been going on dates a lot there for awhile, many of which were pretty bad. Like the guy who said too casually that he was bipolar, and took a bus to our date because he didn’t have a car. Or the cat-owner who walked out of the room when we were watching True Detective on a second date, and came back without any pants on. There was the guy I dated for a few months who threw a heavy white candle at my head while I was sleeping, leaving me with a bump in the morning, which is never okay, even if you are locked out of my apartment.

*****

My friend Jenna today, after we spent about a half hour in the waves, dodging little kids on boogie boards, said to me under her tortoise shell John Lennon glasses on the beach, that she is not very “woo woo.” Woo woo. Woo woo meaning you watch SuperSoul Sunday. Woo woo meaning you own a dogeared copy of The Alchemist. Woo woo meaning you took a crystal healing class at Wanderlust recently, and you were a pro among amateurs. Jenna and I decided she was practical woo woo. Surround yourself with positive people-woo woo. I didn’t tell her this, but I grew up a little more woo-woo than that.

I had a grandmother who would tell me to get in salt baths to cleanse my aura. Nena, as we call her, would send me checks for psychics for my birthday. She would yell at me to stop crying whenever I did: “You’ve got to think positive, Natalie,” she’d snap, as if my sadness was threatening to infect her ever-positive-if-a-little-vicious-aura like a cancer. I had her, and a mother who believes in similar ideas. My Mom, ever beautiful and bubbly, would tell me if I really wanted something, to write an affirmation. When I was fresh off a failed relationship, she would, after tearing the guy’s character and physical features apart like she was a verbal hyena and he was a week-old zebra carcass, would beg me to write down exactly what I wanted in a man. To put it on paper. She begged me to put my heart’s wishes in physical, visible form, and affirm that my dreams were coming. And I would. I would write affirmations dutifully in the $2 composition books from CVS that fill my drawers next to my bed. And it seemed sometimes, that if I wasn’t clear enough, I would get some of what I wanted, but not all of it. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe my writing affirmations really helped.

I think no matter who you are, there’s a good chance, at some point in your life, you will be waiting for something. Maybe it’s a book deal. Maybe it’s a house full of love and laughter. And I think it’s crucial, in this waiting room, as we get comfy and pull newspapers and books from our purses, that we expect wonderful things will happen.

If we are waiting for love, we have to get excited about its coming. If we are waiting for the house, we should imagine what we want, and not anything less. We have to make room in ourselves and our imaginations for things that haven’t happened yet. We have to believe that the deepest wishes of our hearts will come true. Or as Eileen Caddy once wrote: “Expect your every need to be met, expect the answer to every problem, expect abundance on every level, expect to grow spiritually.”

In the meantime, I want to try to see my time now as an opportunity to prepare for whatever may be coming. I think of this sometimes in the way of: “One day, I will not be able to go to a bar and read a book by myself. Why don’t I try and read 30 books this year?” Maybe I take a little extra time off my thirtieth birthday next year (read: sabbatical). And yes, the beautiful home and big career jump will be fulfilling. But I want to remind myself: you are pretty awesome right now. You are complete, and as you should be, right now. Presence is also helpful in the waiting rooms. Because even though there are things that I want on the horizon, I can still look at my life and say: “There are a lot of things here now that I’ve wanted before.” Lastly, I want to remind myself that a lot of this is out of my  control. If you are, and I am, doing everything I can to get what I want, if I am showing up again and again, and doing my best, at a certain point, I have to wash my hands of it, let go, and see what happens.

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