The Waiting Room

Once upon a time I stood behind a podium that wasn’t designed with 5 footers in mind (so I stood on top of a custom made wooden footstool) and somehow mustered up the courage to present a speech in front of my peers, loved ones, and many people of my community.

When I was told to write a speech on a short time constraint and in a “senioritis” state, I was surprised that the words flowed so easily. Even when the moment came to walk up on that stage, I wasn’t as nervous as you would think in a such a significant public speaking position. Trust me, I was still nervous though, and I’m sure I had a nice rash hidden underneath my gown as evidence. As I walked back to my seat, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, It’s over! But little did I know, that speech would follow me far beyond graduation day. I didn’t leave it there in that gym as I thought I would. The challenge I presented to myself and my fellow classmates haunted me that summer, at my first experience at college, and up until this very moment. Basically anytime I try to wish my life away, which is quite often, it’s right there replaying in my mind.

I also didn’t know that life would soon present me with situations that would increase my desire to wish my days away. Suffering, sleep deprivation, class, studying, fighting, distance, heartache, confusion, loneliness. I didn’t realize that when I used the analogy of a waiting room, I would literally spend many days in a medical waiting room, while also in the figurative waiting room of life. I soon learned how difficult it can be to not wish it all away when times get rough. Ironically, I was soon the one wishing, wishing, wishing just as I challenged everyone, including myself, not to do.

I still am. And the words still haunt me, remind me, challenge me, frustrate me, and push me. They make me more aware than I’d like. I can’t count down or wish time away without feeling guilty. Sometimes I wish they didn’t hold me accountable. But other times I am thankful that they don’t let me sink too deep.

I need to hear another speech. One about what to do when life isn’t so great, when it seems like there’s no other choice but to go through the motions and wish it all away.

Honestly, I want to live in the “living room,” but I’ve found myself fighting it for two years. I feel like someone has locked me in the waiting room, with no direction of how to get out and where to go next. I wish it was easier than it sounds.

Perhaps I should be praying instead of wishing.

Read on if you’d like to hear those words. I don’t have to read it; I know it all too well.

Senior class of 2007: Think back four years ago to our freshmen year. Most things are a blur, though there are probably a few memories that stick out in your mind. There is one moment for me that I can recall quite clearly. I can still remember sitting in Mr. McCarthy’s physical science class as a new freshman as he was telling us about his class. He told us to close our eyes and then re-open them a second later, and so I tried it. That short moment he was showing us was how quickly May would arrive. At the time, we probably thought he was pretty crazy, but sure enough, he was right. Not only was he right one year, but one after another. With three more of those short blinks of the eye, May is here again, and soon to be gone. We are now at the moment our class has anticipated even before high school began. This moment is important in our lives right now, but before we know it this high school graduation will soon be a distant memory, along with the members of our class of 2007. Some memories will still be there and stick out in our minds, but many will be forgotten and replaced with memories of different people and new experiences. I could stand here and talk more about how quickly time slips away from us, but we all know the harsh truth. The people in this room who may not know yet will find out soon enough. And as high school graduates, time will only seem faster from here on out.

Instead, I would like to share and discuss a short poem that Mrs. Wells read to us in Composition this year. It is one that really spoke to me and I hope everyone here can get something out of it as well. It is by an anonymous author and from an old woman’s point of view:

First I was dying to finish high school and start college

And then I was dying to finish college and start working

And then I was dying to marry and have children

And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work

And then I was dying to retire

And now, I am dying and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Even as seniors graduating from high school, we can already relate. How many times have we said or heard during the course of this year, “I can’t wait to graduate?” The answer is more times than we can count, but the point is we are already wishing our lives away. And soon enough, we will wish we were somewhere that we are not, waiting for something better. Like the poem says, we will eventually realize we forgot to live. But the good news is that it’s not too late to change our perspective.

We all know how much everyone dreads waiting rooms, whether it is a doctor’s office or a place of business. It is a place everyone has visited one time or another, and most people share common feelings about them. You sit in a chair next to someone who may be coughing all over you while you are thumbing through a magazine as time drags on forever. And well, you know the scene. As a hospital volunteer, I had the experience of going from one waiting room to the next, pushing a hospitality cart and offering refreshments to those people. People would usually smile and thank us, and continue waiting for either the good or the bad news. I can speak for almost everyone there and say that they wished they were somewhere else. Perhaps they even wished they could fast forward time to the moment they were actually waiting for so they could continue on with their life. They could be doing something more productive, right?

The real question is, however, how many of us are guilty of living our lives in the waiting room? I’m not talking about a physical waiting room at the hospital, but rather life in general. We are all guilty of wishing our lives away at some point whether we realize it or not. We are waiting for something to happen, but in reality, life is happening right before our eyes. If we are waiting for a certain moment or time, such as a class to be over, it may seem very small and no big deal. However, before we know it we’re wishing for another time to be the present, such as a planned event with friends. The moments keep adding up and eventually, it is one’s entire life. In reality, are we really waiting for our life to be over? It’s not what our intent is in the beginning, but in the end that is what it becomes. Suddenly we make the waiting room our home because it becomes so comfortable and habitual to us. The unfortunate part is that we do not realize the fact until it is all over, until we have wished our life away and hardly made a visit to the living room.

If you could actually see the living room it may be like one of those living rooms that has the plastic cover on the couch that no one is allowed to even sit on regardless. However, our living rooms of life should be the opposite. We should live a little by jumping on the couch or using the pillows for a pillow fight. We’ve heard this many times over, just in better known terms as live life to the fullest. In fact, we have probably heard it so much it does not mean anything to us anymore. That is why today I am trying to present it in a different light to hopefully open up a few minds, including my own.

Today could be the start of a new life depending on how we use it. We could wait until tomorrow, or the next day, and then it becomes that cycle again. However, we must start somewhere by living in the present and stop waiting for something better to come along. It’s like the present is not good enough for us so we want what the future holds, which soon becomes what we do not want anymore. We should really enjoy each day, whether it is something we like or not. Every moment should be lived to the fullest and cherished, for it will soon be gone. They say that time goes faster when you are having fun, which probably explains why the clock in waiting rooms is slower than normal. But in the end, life goes fast anyway so we might as well enjoy it. Laugh a little, or even cry. Make the best out of everything. Think of how we will miss it when the time is gone. Graduates, I challenge you and myself to do this next year and the years after. Encourage others to do so as well. Our lives could be so much more enjoyable if we moved into the living room and left the waiting room abandoned. High school graduation is a great place and time to begin. Good luck.

Mindy Merenghi

Class of 2007 Valedictorian






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