Waiting To Exhale


You know the saying? ‘All good things come to those who wait.’ It opposes another saying. ‘Time waits for no man.’ While the wise sees the value of patience, waiting can be a trap. In some movies, there is a Big Moment that is life-changing which transforms the protagonist into the hero or heroine. Before this cinematic moment, we see the potential. After it, we revel in the resolution. In these movies, life is an adventure, a celebration, what we think life should be, this big moment leading to a rousing end. The ending we have been waiting for.

A friend refers to this as the waiting game. “I have always, essentially, been waiting,” he said. “Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In school, I was biding my time until I could become the adult, smarter, stronger, more organised, with the dream job. As an adult, I was waiting for the love of my life, to be that married person. Then the person I would become when I have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have been waiting to become future visions of myself, because that is when life will really begin.”


“In movies, there is the climax, the main duel, the face off, the performance, the home run, the wedding day, or the big deal, the stories that split time with that key event, and everything is reframed, before it and after it. Life after will be the sweeping aftermath. I have always wanted this movie-worthy event, something that will change everything and grab me out of this waiting game into the whirlwind in front of me. I cry and cry at these movies, because I am still waiting for my own big moment. I was ready for it and believed that the rest of my life would fade into the background, and that my big moment would carry me through life like a lifeboat.”

I told this friend that although there is this one big dramatic scene, with a before and after, good movies have many moments. These are moments that connect with audiences, moments that are poignant, and like life, these moments may not be big. Very often they are the small everyday moments scattered throughout a good movie, moments that resonate because they are relatable, because they are meaningful and because they are real. Life is really a split screen of many countless moments. Which can happen any day. We miss them when we wait for that one big moment. Of course most of us know this, yet we can subconsciously fall into the trap of waiting. Waiting for the big moment. Waiting to exhale…

‘Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.’

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  1. James Foo

    I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.

    The Hours

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