Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Sivan 5766 - June 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Tackling the 'Tick-Tock'
or Calmness Revisited

by Batya Jacobs

Have you noticed how, very often, we only appreciate things when they are not there?

The classic example is the state of painlessness. It is only when we have a pain someplace, be it ever so little a place, like the very tippy- top of our little finger, that we appreciate how marvelous it is to have no pain. Afterwards, when the pain has gone, we may revel in our state of painlessness for a short while, but, all too soon, we will be back taking painlessness for granted, until the next time.

The other day, I noticed something because of its absence. I was waiting to see the doctor. I had turned up on time for my appointment but there were patients with still earlier appointment times waiting to go in. Slowly, slowly the earlier time patients were seen and all the while the `I just have to ask a question/ have a paper signed' non- appointment patients turned up and I wasn't seething! Quite the contrary.

I read my book, smiled at the waiting queue-busters, commiserated with them at the awkwardness of their situation, laughed at the absurdity that there were now more non- appointment patients than patients with an appointment and waited patiently until my turn finally came.

I was amazed! Where was the beating pulse, where was the beady-eyed lookout for potential queue-busters while I, adrenaline filled and at-the-ready, waited to pounce at the door at the first suspicion of a movement of the door handle. Where was the angered inward relating of the list of `I'll be late for . . . . won't manage . . . will get into a mess because of . . . . . . .' and all the other angry, upset, hard-done-by feelings that normally overwhelm me when things run so late?

Then I recalled another recent incident. Another appointment, another 'running late.' The lady in front of me had obviously not been spared the ravages of the 'tick-tock you're getting later and later-clock.' This lady had turned up early for an appointment an hour back and was somewhat upset by the delay (the British in me is coming to the fore). I abandoned the book I had found and comforted her. Perhaps next time she could call to check the state of the delay before she came. We talked out some of the problems her lateness would cause. We got on to talking families, lengths of journeys and who knows what. At least I kept her mind off the clock, most of the time.

Meanwhile, even after she went in and I was waiting through my hours delay, old `Mr. Tick-Tock it's getting later clock,' didn't get a word in.

Twice it's happened, I marveled. Where has tick-tock gone? I mused on (the appointments and the non-appointments gave me plenty of musing time!). What used to happen was that 'Mr.Hard-Done-By, that onion juice-soaked (to start your tears up) Spreader of Woes would start the proceedings — "It always happens to you, nobody cares, everyone else is more important and, and . . ."

Then 'Hurry, Hurry,' starts with the 'You mustn't be late' song, which is more like a chant, like the noise of the old steam trains as they gradually went faster and faster. Oh! That chant hits the pit of my stomach. I look at the clock, sweat breaking out on my troubled face.

"Why do they only keep you waiting so long?" old Hard- Done-By whispers, just to rub the salt into the wound. Not today though. Today I am smiling, today I am calm, today I am caring about the other persons plight!

How did I manage it though? When I am all focused inward, all those angry, panicky, upset downtrodden bits come to the fore. If I don't think about me and instead think about the other people, then this wondrous sense of peace and patience fills my being! How did I manage it though? Where did the raised pulse and the angry, impatient demon go? He was certainly still being kept waiting.

I was getting later and later for the rest of my day but I was focused on the other person's predicament and that helped me realize that time would have its way whatever I did. I would be seen when I was meant to be seen. I understood that I had no control over anything but my reaction to being kept waiting. So I tried to help the others in my predicament to feel better and I patiently waited — patiently!!!!


I am not completely rid of "Tick-Tock" He has got me in his grips on a few occasions since. Yet, as soon as I can focus on where my real power lies, then peace will be mine again. I have never been one to try banging on doors and making a fuss that would be so unBritish.

No, Mr. Hurry Hurry has no power to hurry anything but my pulse rate. I am going to try focusing on another person in my plight and try to empathize with them. I can hunt out the funny side of my situation or read a book: I can choose how the time delay will affect me.

Mr. Tick-Tock, Mr. Hard-Done-By can chant all they want — I don't have to listen. I won't get in any quicker because I am upset.

I can hardly wait to be kept waiting again just so that I can feel this sense of peace!

Batya Jacobs, The Jerusalem Narrative Therapy Center 054- 6720249


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