I’m in my third trimester of this pregnancy, so it’s one of those stages of life where I find myself eagerly and somewhat nervously waiting for this baby to come. That doesn’t mean I’m bored, though. I’m run off my feet, actually. Pregnancy also means you are bearing a lot of weight. Everything is heavier, and I’m not just talking about my body. Tax season seems heavy (after all, I have to file personal, business and estate taxes). Running a business seems heavy (too many business trips), and managing the day to-day-demands of life seems extra heavy. Life has times where you carry a lot of weight and do a lot of waiting.
I’ve had other times of weight and waiting. Waiting to hear if you’ve got that job you applied for, waiting for test results (maybe in school, or in your health), and waiting for a loved one in palliative care to pass on. The burden of mental illness and depression is a huge weight, often requiring a long wait.
When I was a teenager, the Confederation Bridge that crosses the Northumberland Strait from PEI to New Brunswick opened. This bridge is a feat of engineering, built to last 100 years (unheard of for a bridge). It cost 1 billion dollars and is the longest span over ice-covered waters. The fact that it spans icy waters is important because the supports (called piers) must support the weight bearing down on them from above, in addition to the lateral pressure of ice in the winter months.
You can only walk on the bridge once a year when they close it for a marathon, but right before it opened they allowed pedestrian traffic for one day. I walked it with my family and it is one of my best memories. It felt like I was crossing an ocean (which you kind of are).
The job of a bridge is to bear weight. They aren’t supposed to move. They hold their ground and wait for people/vehicles to cross. They bear both vertical and lateral pressure, and sometimes even high winds. It seems like they are bombarded on every side. But their job isn’t to fix anything. Their job is to hold the ground they’re on.
It’s like cardio and strength training. I love a good cardio workout because you feel like you have gotten somewhere, there is sweat and calories burned, and movement that make you feel progress. Strength training is slower, and consists of doing the same things, over and over. yes with breaks of course, but it is rep after rep after rep. The results are slower, and thus progress can be harder to judge. But it still has so many benefits for you body. Sometimes in life, the benefits of waiting while you bear the weight of your days are just want you need to be doing. It is in fact, good for you.
Maybe you too are in one of those waiting times of life. Where you feel like you are stuck there, bearing weight while others cross and move on. Or you are doing rep after rep and getting very sick of it. What do you do in these times? Well, you “wait.” This time I mean it in the sense of attend (the french word for wait is attendre). Like a waiter waiting tables, you show up for work everyday focusing on what you can control (some days, that may only be your breathing). You “wait” on those under your care. You seek breaks, (remember the reps in the gym, there is supposed to be a rest interval). But then you get right back into bearing that weight, and waiting. You see it as a time to cut things out of your life that you can’t keep up with because you aren’t in cardio mode any more. The cardio phase of life will come again, and you will be stronger, because of all the weight you bear today, and because you shed some of the useless weight in life while you were waiting.
I once had a conversation with my psychologist who said that happiness doesn’t always need to be your goal. In some stages of life, the goal is to be calm and wait, and by so doing allow the happiness to follow. I’ve seen this with mental health issues and in life in general. Staying calm sometimes feels like you are that bridge. Your forward progress has stopped and you batton the hatches, brace yourself and try to stay calm.
The strength of the bridge is in its ability to bear weight. The strength of a person is their ability to bear the weight of burdens while they wait. So just wait, and weight and wait. And soon enough, you’ll move from being the one bearing the weight to being the one running/progressing on the span. Remember that while you are taking your turn to wait and weight, someone else is running, maybe someone you love. They are moving forward because you are holding up their path. Be patient, and it will soon be their time to wait while you do the moving. Sometimes you take turns moving and waiting even inside a single day or morning, but your waiting enables the success of another. Chances are, your success is connected to another’s waiting. Isn’t that what marriage and family are all about? The strength of a marriage or a family could be found in its collective ability to bear the weight of life’s burdens. So just hang in there. Wait a little longer and you’ll all get further together.