What do you do in the waiting room? Most people occupy themselves with their phones. Some stare at whatever lame drivel is coming from the television (if there is a television). Old schoolers look at magazines.
Most of the time, I find myself in the first group. What better way to pass the time than mindlessly scrolling through newsfeeds? Actually, I do know a better way. It's not a new idea, or a unique idea, but it sure beats eye strain and tech neck.
I carry a small notebook in my bag at all times. I use it to jot down notes and phrases that come to me while I am out and about. I don't use it that often because I'm usually distracted with the task at hand to let my mind wander, but it comes in handy in waiting rooms.
The New Buzzword
Mindfullness is the new buzzword. Everyone is talking about how society is too distracted, too fast paced, too busy. The way to alleviate the stress that comes from all of this activity is to take time to live in the present moment.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.
I've been practicing yoga for several years, so mindfulness and meditation are a part of my everyday life. I find myself practicing mindfulness in little ways throughout the day, even better, I notice that I notice things. Being self-aware during these moments is exciting, if you're into that sort of thing, which I am.
Observation is a Treasure Chest
As I've mentioned before, people ask me how I come up with my stories. How do I invent characters, settings, and plots? Most of the time, the answer lies in observation of my surroundings and documenting those observations. If I don't write it down, I will forget, unless it's an extrememly unusual experience. However, I have found that observing and documenting a seemingly mundane scene can be quite interesting and valuable.
For example, one day, I spent two hours in the waiting room at the doctor's office. It was an unusual circumstance, and I had my notebook with me, so I stayed until my name was called. While waiting, I documented my observations of the scene, and tried to look non-chalant while studying the other people in the room. It felt a bit like I was a character in a spy novel.
Below are my observations, typed as written, with editorial comments in brackets:
Give it a Try
As you see, I began to ramble a bit at the end. I blame full bladder and empty stomach. I managed to turn an extremely long wait time into a pretty productive excercise. This is where writers get their ideas.
Who knows? Maybe pointy beard guy will be a character in my next novel.
I challenge everyone to give observation a try the next time you're in a waiting room, or a long line. Even if you don't write it down, at least observe and take note of people...without being creepy, of course.
I write novels and poetry and this blog.