Peace in Delays

I get frustrated sometimes when there is a delay. Whether it’s that we are running late, we have to reschedule something, or plans have to get pushed, I get annoyed at the very thought of it. Because WHYYYYYY?

I’m laughing at myself as I write this, hearing how ridiculous it is. Why get annoyed? Why be bothered at all? Who cares? Does time really matter all that much?

A few weeks ago, we let the kiddos watch the old version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene Wilder is so fantastic and the movie has an almost irksome quality, since Roald Dahl depicted Wonka as such a strange fellow. But the lessons of the story ring true, whether Willy Wonka is a little off or not.

Among other things, this story is about gluttony in a few of its forms. It’s about the excess we pursue for ourselves and ultimately teach to our children. Augustus loves food, Violet loves gum, Mike loves tv and Veruca? Well, she just loves everything.

Thankfully, the hard lessons of gluttony and it’s consequences are delivered in song and dance, so we parents don’t feel completely foolish. Instead, we sing and laugh at how absurdly overly giving we’ve been with our kids. We give them everything. We share the wealth we’ve worked for and because we don’t always have to say no, we don’t. Sure, we need to practice saying “no” more often…but maybe tomorrow. Just keep singing…

But such a practice, in grave excess, is teaching our children lessons unforeseen from the beginning. Giving and giving and sharing so much becomes troublesome. Because life isn’t about things and it isn’t about being “the Giving Tree” either— that only makes a person so depleted, you can do nothing but sit as your stumpy self and sigh.

While Roald Dahl seems to have it all right, I nearly forgot one of his most important lessons: that of Veruca Salt, which brings me back to the “now” lesson I started writing about here.

When Veruca Salt gets to sing her song in the movie, it’s called “I Want It Now.” While the obvious takeaway from this song is that Veruca wants absolutely everything (and that’s just no good) there is also the subtle reality that she’s also asking for things “now.” She doesn’t just want the whole world, she wants it immediately.

There’s a lesson here for everyone, isn’t there? We can want things. And we can want them to happen sooner than later. But the desire of something immediately is almost as bad, if not worse, than wanting the thing at all. Wanting things “now” makes them tragically harder to obtain sometimes, and that added challenge makes it frustrating.

But does it matter? Why do children want things immediately? And how is that the most childish thing I can think of? The image of my little girl stomping her foot and saying, “no, NOW!!!!”

When I realized this idea: the thought that Veruca’s self absorption and greed are also tied to an immediate need for action, I saw how juvenile such gluttony is. And letting go of such a concept can be liberating. It can bring so much peace. What if I want something, but I tell myself it doesn’t have to happen right now? What if it can happen whenever it’s meant to? It can happen in a month or a year. How much added stress would be alleviated with the notion that time doesn’t have to be a contributing factor in getting the things that I want?

How relevant is “now?”

I meditated on this idea and found such peace. I breathed into this and felt a calming presence. Because maybe time is less important than I thought. Maybe Roald Dahl knew something about it, too.

Regardless of what the truth is, I remain grateful for the book and it’s movie adaptation. And I’m grateful my kids are working on being “less of a Veruca.” I’m grateful to be working on the same lesson myself.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

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