Between the Wish and the Thing

between the wish and the thing

There is a quote from All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy that has been totally haunting me this year. It’s this: “Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”

Have truer words ever been written?

That sentence is a bit glum on first reading. A lot of the things McCarthy writes are glum, but as I’ve turned this sentence over and over in my head, I see some hope in it. He says “the world lies waiting.” We’re all in this waiting thing together. So, so much of life is waiting for something we want to happen, and you’re not alone in that. I’m here with you. The world, we’re all here with you.

I thought about this quote while I was working out last night. I go to this class called Beatbox (If you live in the Nashville area, go.) and it is really hard. At least, it is for me, and I think it is for everybody else in there too because we are all really sweaty and breathing heavily at the end and talking about how hard/good it was.

The class is an hour long and as soon as it starts, I anticipate its ending. From the first minute, I’m so excited for the class to be over and to be doing the cool down song because working out is hard.

But you know what happens between the beginning of Beatbox and the end of Beatbox? Beatbox. The actual exercising part happens. Without the middle part there would be no sense of satisfaction at the end. There would be no reason to anticipate the ending because no work would have been done, and I would have nothing to feel proud or healthy about.

I want to start viewing the place “between the wish and the thing” like a Beatbox class. It is hard and difficult, the waiting part. It can leave you breathless, hopeless (just watch me try and do a real push-up) and discouraged. The middle part, also known as most of life, is hard, but deep down somewhere we know that our anticipation for the thing, whatever your thing is, will be meaningless without the wait. It will feel empty and unsatisfying.

Things happen during the waiting. We change. We are stretched and we grow.

What are you lying in wait for? How long has it been? Are you on the brink of giving up? I get it. I get that. Some things we lie in wait for take days. Some things take years. But if we can fight the bitterness, if we can lean on something bigger and more powerful than our own weak selves, we will turn around one day and see that during the tension, we were formed into a person with stronger, deeper, more loving, understanding and patient stuff.

The space between the wish and the thing is where we should want to be. For it is during the tension, and not at the end once the thing is achieved, that we are becoming who were meant to be all along.

6 thoughts on “Between the Wish and the Thing

  1. Andrea,
    I love your analogy that connects the phrase with the exercise class! I can totally relate with spin class. It takes all mustering to get to spin class, but I know I’ll be glad I went. But in the middle, yes, is the spin class, with all the hills and valleys, the work, the tension, the racing from one thing to the next and the hopes of a fire alarm to get to leave early. The loud music can distract from the pain, but it is painful nonetheless, until that favorite song comes along and gives me new energy. I thank God for the new energy He gives me in this exercise class of life, but for His Holy Spirit, I’d run from every alarm. His saving grace not only keeps me in the race, but directs my steps to run to HIM! Thank you, Andrea, for bringing this to light for me!


  2. Andrea,
    We have found as we wait on “Between the wish and the thing” we begin to anticipate and even
    put expectations on the future. Looking back the “in between” has been life itself. Life has
    just gotten in the way. Demands, responsibilities, social pressures all the things that come with
    living life that must be dealt with as we become responsible adults. Not necessarily bad or good,
    but “Between the wish and the Thing” can hold life changing propositions. Fortunately we have a
    GOD who is close and standing by who is willing to direct us.
    As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a cross in the road, take it.”
    Andrea, keep writing,
    Love Jim & Ann


  3. I am recovering from a broken kneecap. Your analogy with exercise hit me right between the eyes or on my kneecap! I too want to start living “between”. I think I have been stuck in the wishing. Thanks for waking me up to what I am missing.!


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