©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
"I can’t wait to see you!"
The words hung in the air between us. I liked their sound, felt nurtured by the sentiment they expressed, and saw the pleasure of anticipation. At the same time I felt a vague dis-ease and heard myself reply, albeit with laughter, "Well, you’ll simply have to wait!"
Driving home I pondered my response. At this stage of my personal and spiritual growth journey I would never consciously do anything to put down another’s exuberance. So from where did that retort spring? What old tapes were playing so automatically?
Fortunately I’ve learned that a reaction to something in the present is rarely about the present. Rather, it’s usually a signal that something in the present has reminded the brain of events from the past. And often, that something from the past hasn’t been addressed and processed. Once again it was time to do some family-of-origin work.
Days went by. There were no recalled memories. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It was so frustrating, accustomed as I'd become to rather quickly being able to process this type of information! Finally one day in desperation I cautiously and experimentally used those exact words with another family-of-choice member. "I can’t wait to see you." Immediately I felt some measure of anxiety and discomfort and experienced a sense of impending punishment. Hmmm.
At bedtime that night I used a favorite technique of metaphorically writing with my non-dominant hand on the blackboard of my brain (even in this day of technology it still pops up in my mind’s eye as a blackboard or a whiteboard) and asked my brain to give me some history about those words.
The bulk of what the brain knows lodges in our subconscious. Estimates are that only 5% of that information comes to our conscious awareness. I wanted my brain to provide me with answers and it did—in a dream. A dream about an exuberant little sprite with blond hair and blue eyes who absolutely loved life. A girl who eagerly looked forward to each new adventure and who, when it was one of her favorite activities would burst forth with: "I can’t wait! I just can’t wait!"
Alas, there were a plethora of well meaning but misguided adults who, perhaps in an attempt to prepare the child for the realities of life or to help her learn to delay immediate gratification, regularly responded with, You’ll just have to wait. You’ll simply have to wait. Or, Stop saying you can’t wait. You CAN wait! If you say that again you won’t be able to do such and such.
Consequently, the child had scrubbed those words from her vocabulary. They hadn’t crossed her lips for half a century. After all, she wouldn’t want to miss any adventures because she’d verbalized excitement! In adulthood she hadn’t stopped anticipating the carrots she regularly scheduled on her calendar but she had refrained from affirming the expectation. And if anticipation is half the pleasure, some of her pleasure had been definitely diminished.
I awoke. Abruptly. Eyes wide open. Wow! With that recall, I could do something about my responses. With this information in conscious awareness, there were many options at my fingertips. I could turn down the volume on the old tapes, record a new internal message, reown a portion of myself that I’d temporarily misplaced, and so on. Yes, there was some discomfort in the recall but I know that I can only choose to get out of a trap if I recognize I’m in one!
And so the journey continues. As I round each bend in the road, place one foot in front of the other and climb the next hill, I experience an ever-expanding view. Another section of the puzzle clicks into place. Another piece of baggage rolls off my back and I’m a step closer to becoming the person I was intended to be in all of my innate giftedness.
Oh, I can wait. I take life one day at a time. Sometimes one minute at a time. But my vocabulary of anticipation need be restricted no longer. I am free to burst into song (metaphorically, of course) from the sheer pleasure of thriving.
Yes, I live in the moment as much as possible. And when I feel the words I can’t wait! I just can’t wait! bubble up from the innermost child-like part of me, I know something really good is about to happen.