In the Waiting

All this week, what’s front and center in my consciousness is the contemplation of releasing the need to know and to control events (a.k.a. surrendering) and honoring the mystery of how life unfolds in its own time and in its own way. This is partly a continuation of my ruminations from last week about embracing the dark side of my soul, which houses difficult emotions. At a practical level, I’m also in the midst of preparing for a series of upcoming talks in which the topics are letting go and/or honoring ourselves and our lives through experiences that are objectively challenging—“Release” and “Honor,” the bookend concepts of REACH (Release-Envision-Act-Celebrate-Honor).

To help with my contemplation, the universe sent me a few synchronistic messages through my friends. They serve as reminders that there’s much joy to be felt in the process of life unfolding, that there’s pleasure to be harvested in the waiting time for dreams to manifest. Before you think I’m offering over-used clichés and tired platitudes here, let’s remember the last time a big dream came true, shall we? How long did the excitement last before it’s onto dreaming the next dream? How long did it take for the dream to manifest relative to the time you savored its manifestation? Right.

In the waiting

One of the messages I received was the following T. S. Eliot quote shared by a friend:

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. ~ T. S. Eliot

Don’t know about you, but my natural tendency is to focus on the dream, the end goal, the outcome that I want with all my heart. Without mindfulness, the waiting time for it to manifest, by default, is defined by the absence of that for which I long. Of course, the bigger the dream, the longer the waiting time is, and the more agony fills that space in between. Before I know it, I’m only living for the dreams, while pushing and turning away from all the dreaded in-between spaces that make up the rest of life. That translates into living in far more angst than happiness—even without counting objectively difficult life experiences—given the limited shelf life for elation from having a dream come true. Then, there are the dreams that didn’t come true. Instead, something else—often better—took their place, or that, by the time the dreams manifested, I had outgrown them. What good did all the longing and agonizing do? It’s neither a satisfying nor a smart way to live this precious life.

To me, the central message in Eliot’s quote above is that the joy is in the waiting, not in what we think we want. We get completely hung up on what and who we’re utterly convinced we must have in order to be happy. Yet, if and when we do get what we want, the joy is short-lived, as we don’t stop dreaming for as long as we’re still breathing. We live for those tiny slivers of life that are our dreams, and blind ourselves from the pleasures offered by the vastness of the in-between spaces. We don’t stop to notice that, through an ever so slight flip of the coin, we shift from the darkness we dread during the in-between time to the most enchanting light reflecting the vibrant essence of our souls. We fail to appreciate that in the stillness of dreaded dry waiting is the most mesmerizing dance beckoning our hearts to glide along effortlessly in synchrony with universal rhythm.

The light and dance

Part of the light and the dance in Eliot’s prose involves the people we meet and events that take place on our way to realizing our dreams. For instance, as a result of becoming the author of REACH last year, my path has crossed with those of many other authors, some really fantastic folks I wouldn’t have met otherwise. One in particular has become one of my best friends of all times. This segment of my journey has also led me to the world of social media through which I’ve connected virtually with people all over the world, folks I’d probably never meet otherwise. I already know that some of them will be a part of my life for a long, long time to come.

Personal connections aside, the current in-between space has also crystallized for me how much I truly love what I’ve chosen to do professionally to honor my soul’s mission to fulfill in this life. A couple of weeks ago, I heard from a former consulting client from my last business who wanted me to help them again. This is the client who blessed me with the best financial year of my entire career in 2010 in the midst of a historic recession. While this opportunity was flattering and tempting in its own rights, it didn’t take long for me to turn it down, as it simply didn’t align with who I’ve become and my soul’s mission. Even through the visits of second—and third—thoughts after saying “no,” this consulting opportunity, lucrative as it would be, isn’t the dance partner calling to my heart and soul. Instead of gliding along perfectly in step with the right partner, I’d be stumbling all over the dance floor and having a miserable time with this mismatched counterpart. The only reason why I’d join this dance would be the fear that I wouldn’t get to dance at all. I chose to turn away from the darkness of making a fear-based decision and face the light of honoring my heart and soul—and my purpose for being alive, i.e., to live passionately and joyfully while serving and sharing love.

Dreams are guideposts

So, it’s all in the waiting—the faith, the hope, the love—in the unfolding of life in its own rhythm and program. Our dreams serve as directional guideposts toward which we head. They give us something toward which to move on purpose. Along the way, the universe drops breadcrumbs—the people we meet and the events that transpire—in part to show us the rest of the path, in part to make the journey itself enjoyable. Instead of concentrating on the absence of what we want, we can shift our consciousness to what shows up along the way as we get closer and closer to our dreams—or something even better for our highest good than what we were able to imagine.

I’m grateful to my friend for sharing the above Eliot quote, which serves as a reminder to dial down my over-achieving tendencies, to quiet my overly zealous analytical mind, to practice patience, to surrender to unseen cosmic forces at work behind the seeming lack of movement. It’s in so doing that I’m able to appreciate that life offers wave upon wave of blissful moments in between dreams and goals and desired outcomesand, yes, along with disappointments and frustrations. I’ll always be a dreamer, but, going forward, I’m setting the intention to embrace the faith and the hope and the lovein the waiting.

What about you? Can you see the faith and the hope and the love in the waiting? Would love for you to share what you think/feel below.


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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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Dearest Alice, Your writing never fails to move me. So profound and so authentic. Also insightful and inciteful! You light the world with your message and you serve with all that you are. Living now is so important while we hold the vision for the future we desire. Remembering that every moment is perfect no matter what it offers gets easier with inner awareness and peace. The path of equanimity and serenity. Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul. I feel truly blessed to know you. xo


Good morning Alice! Yet another really great post. You will love this - I put off reading your email until this morning, because I agreed to do a freelance project for a friend. Note that this helped her with her website and business, when I put my own work aside to do it for the MONEY. I worked until 10 last night and woke up depressed, cranky, and with a headache that I still have as I am writing this. I appreciate your words more than I can say. There must be some deep connection here as you always seem to write about exactly what I have going on in any given moment and exactly what I need to hear! Big Hug - Carol


Lovely, Alice. Just lovely! This says it all: "We live for those tiny slivers of life that are our dreams, and blind ourselves from the pleasures offered by the vastness of the in-between spaces." Beautiful! As you know I have always maintained that our being here "is the purpose." From where I stand now this whole physical experience is the "in between spaces." I wouldn't trade any of it for anything I could possibly conjure up in my own imaginings! Again, so beautiful, Alice. You have completely pulled me into your heart! Thanks, Carl

Linda Joy
Linda Joy

Alice, what a beautiful message for all of us on the journey of staying connected to our spirit led dreams. The entire post truly touched me especially the part of you turning down a lucrative offer that was no longer a vibrational match for the dream in your heart. I printed out your quote below and it now graces my computer screen as a daily reminder to trust the process and stay true to the calling of my heart.... "I chose to turn away from the darkness of making a fear-based decision and face the light of honoring my heart and soul—and my purpose for being alive, i.e., to live passionately and joyfully while serving and sharing love." Thank you for being a light in this world and for being the brave and authentic soul that you are. Your words so deeply express what so many of us feel - but are unable to express in such a powerful way. Honored that the Universe dropped the breadcrumbs that led me to your work.!


  1. […] embrace the dark side of my soul and to release tunnel-vision attachment to dreams and appreciate the waiting time. The vibrational tune-up of this past week had to do with letting go of a long-standing grievance […]

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