The title of this post is taken directly from one of my favorite science fiction novels, Stranger in a Strange Land, published in 1961 by Robert A. Heinlein. The character referred to in the title of the novel is the protagonist, Valentine Michael Smith, who is born to a married astronaut on her way to Mars to colonize it with her husband and three other couples, all arranged marriages for the sake of the mission. We find in the course of the story that young Valentine is conceived on the flight as a product of adultery.
Cue in the murder/suicide of the lover and parents, throw in the deaths of the other colonists, and pretty soon young Valentine Michael is left alone with the native Martians to be raised, who happily take him on as an experiment. Some years later another colonizing group heads to Mars and finds Mike, as he is come to be known, a biologically human adult but spiritually and emotionally a Martian child, as Martians live centuries. (A basic premise of the novel is that Martians are far more developed than Earthlings in a number of ways.)
One of the Martian concepts Mike brings back to Earth is “when waiting is filled”. The people he interacts with on Earth have absolutely no clue what he means by this phrase. Mostly they ignore it or mouth it until their enlightenment is complete, as evidenced by their study of the Martian texts Mike has with him and their involvement in the religion he creates. Then BINGO, the light turns on and they live it. Hmmm.
What I am learning is that this phrase, “when waiting is filled”, has definite meaning in our real world and our real lives. I’m living it in many ways. I am basically a creative right-brained person with very high left-brain logical function. That’s how I’ve survived in Information Technology for years, always working with the people side of business and development projects. But it exhausted me in many ways and I found myself coming home at night unable to do anything logical for myself — all that energy was used to satisfy the demands of my work. My right brain just wanted to come out and play. My left brain was lost in the fog.
I have struggled through the last several months with starting my coaching business, a blog, a website, and learning a new lifestyle based on using my right brain instead of my left, giving my creative side free rein over my logical side. It’s been a real war between left brain and right brain as well as fear and confidence, in order to live a different, more authentic life. One of the biggest frustrations for me in this period has been coming to terms with not being able to get tasks done that support my goals.
Then a friend came over a few weeks ago, listened to my laments (she set them to a cheesy C&W tune), and helped me identify and tremble through the fear into the joy, brainstorm my way into a new attitude, and figure out the direction I wanted to go. She also added concrete support by papering my house with sticky notes, expressing her delight at my new life and letting me know how wonderful she thinks I am. She has my undying love for that and I’m still finding notes!
A week later, back in the pit of desperation and wondering how much further I could go down, I identified $25 I’d forgotten about that I could spend on food, gas, or starting up my business. Fueled by that serendipitous $25, in the space of nine hours I finished more concrete business-related tasks than I’d been able to do in the past five or six months… I settled on a name, reserved the domain, designed the basic site, ordered business cards, set up my blog, wrote the first post, set up my FB page, and updated my FB and LinkedIn profiles. It still amazes me that I did that much to finally pass the starting gate where I’d lingered for months, but my right brain kicked into gear just in time.
What I know now is that waiting was filled at that point. It was almost filled when my friend was with me, and that planted more seeds for the explosion. But it took another week of fear and joy warring in my heart, another week of hanging in the balance, another week of I don’t know what else to break open the fear and get moving. For some reason I don’t yet perceive, that was the right time to do it. The serendipity since then has been amazing and has transformed my attitude and future.
Waiting until waiting is filled applies to so many other situations in this life. So many times we feel stalled, hung up, shut down, paralyzed, stifled, helpless, unable to move in the direction we want. In this society, we call that “indecision” or “flakiness” and generally cast it as a character flaw. But the truth is that while we may know the next right action to take, we also instinctively know that it may not be time to take that action yet. So we cast it to others as “not knowing”, make excuses for our inaction, and are frustrated over it all, even though spirit tells us action isn’t supposed to occur at that point.
Out of that frustration, we can force action and make it worse. I cannot tell you how many times I have panicked and rushed into a situation somewhere, anywhere, because I believed that some movement was better than no movement. But often I found that I had moved too quickly and that if I had waited for events to unfold at their own pace, I would have been better off in the long run.
The challenge is learning when you are actually hiding from your life and when you are waiting for waiting to be filled. From a spiritual standpoint, if you believe as I do that there are no wrong actions and all unfolds perfectly in its own time, the difference is internal. If you are hiding from your life, then you don’t see the realities and are not open to the lessons of the situation until spirit smacks you upside the head with them. That means it all has to get pretty desperate for you before you can open to the goodness of your life and the wisdom of the lessons.
But if you know you are waiting for waiting to be filled, then you are open to the lessons and even though there may be frustration in the wait, you are still learning and growing in the meantime. No matter how long it is before right action starts, you begin to understand and appreciate what it takes for life to unfold and dreams to be filled. The lessons bring their own rewards for the time spent in waiting. Right action begins quickly. The dreams are fulfilled. The wait is over.