I had been waiting at the dentist’s office for 90 minutes.
Ninety minutes of fiddling with my phone, checking the clock, thinking about the stuff I needed to do, and, finally, just standing with my arms crossed looking – and feeling – really irritated.
Then I heard it: “Caitie Whelan” over the loudspeaker. Only it was pronounced “Catlee Wellin.” I shot to the counter. Catlee Wellin was ready to get her teeth cleaned.
“The dentist just called,” the receptionist told me, “and she’s not coming in.”
“She just called now to say she’s not coming in? My appointment was 90 minutes ago!” I was ticked through and through. Ninety minutes lost and gone for absolutely nothing.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry.” The receptionist was genuine, kind.
And maybe something about her kindness cracked me open, because standing there at the counter, I realized I’d lost 90 minutes not because of my dentist. But because of me.
I had spent those minutes fiddling with my phone and checking the clock. I had blown that time waiting, not living. And because of it, I had nothing to show for myself but irritation when what I was waiting for went to pieces.
It’s on you to live, the better angels of my nature tsk-tsked. Doesn’t matter if you live by reading or listening or just being. But when stuff doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know you’ve lived that time not blown that time.
I booked another appointment for 9am on Monday and left. I might not see the dentist until 9:30 or 10 on Monday. But I’m not waiting next time. I’m living next time.
And time spent living is never lost and gone.