Life in “Standby” Mode?

It is the second half of the school year, and I am traveling quite a bit around the state of Minnesota.  As the dean of students for an online school, my primary role is to deal with attendance issues.  Yes – we take attendance in the online setting; it just looks a bit different than in a seat-based school.  If you ever want to attend a training on it, let me know – I have connections (or I will just run a webinar for you and you alone).

This role takes me to far-off place like International Falls where I can see Canada just across the river from a gas station on my way to court.  I drive almost everywhere, and my trusty Honda Civic’s stereo is my best friend as it pumps out the tunes or a book on CD.

On a recent trip, I realized that I was in complete silence as I drove. I could not remember when or why I had I had chosen silence over noise, but I had.


I played with the volume knob a bit before I glanced over to the stereo and saw that it was indeed in “standby” mode.


As I drove through the frozen tundra of Northern Minnesota, I realized that I was missing all of the beauty that was there for me to see.  I drove, day-dreamed, and “spaced out” – completely lost in thoughts that no longer have much bearing.  I doubt that the thinking was productive.  I doubt that the day-dreaming truly involved dreaming – by that I mean that I was not making future plans for great things in my family’s life.

I just stood by.

Well, in this case, I was sitting…and driving.

Regardless of what the position is – standing by, sitting by, laying by – life is going past us as we stand by.  Sometimes we have to wait. We wait on the Lord. We wait on other people to make decision. We wait.  But most of the time, at least in my life, I am not waiting on anyone else…I am just not being an active participant in life. 

I am letting it pass by me, allowing it to go on without much thought, and lacking much interest in how it impacts me until I am so unhappy about something that I stomp my feet and say, “Stop! This isn’t how I wanted it to be.”

But I had not taken any time to consider how I did want it to be.  I had not actively done anything to make it go differently.  So when I get to point B without realizing I had left point A, I want to blame everyone else rather than looking in the mirror.

When I live in standby mode, I am to blame for life going in certain directions.

I give life implicit permission when I do not explicitly take a daily inventory of how I want it to be.  And – if I do not take time to consult God about how He might want my life to go, I certainly cannot blame Him when it just goes poorly.

Is this happening to anyone else?  Are there some times that we let this happen more than others? Or perhaps in certain areas of our lives more than others?

I would love to hear your thoughts today in the comment section!

PS: I have a renewed sense of wanting to write in this blog; however, I think that a daily submission might be overly ambitious at the present way that life is.  I am hoping to have  a Monday-Wednesday-Friday submission routine down.  It’s March 1, and some things need to change and be re-prioritized.  I hope that this sense of ambition remains!

How are you all?


Filed under faith, health, Thoughts, Travel

12 responses to “Life in “Standby” Mode?

  1. deb

    I sure am living my life in the standby mode. I make myself angry because I am so lazy or undisciplined when it comes to doing most anything. Mostly it takes a crisis mode for me to get going. I need so much help and prayer in this area of my life! Is it still depression that is causing this or what?? Frustration abounds!


    • So sorry to hear this, but I relate. I have been trying to get up and walk on the treadmill every day before spending the day sitting at my desk. It hasn’t happened, but I intend to make it happen! Thank you for sharing – only you and someone professional could sort out the depression side. If that is the answer, there is help…check it out and let us know if that helps!


  2. Kari N.

    Are you sure you didn’t write this specifically about my life? My mother likes to quote “South Pacific” to me where in one of the songs it says, “You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” The problem is that I have trouble believing that dreams do come true, so I don’t bother having one, which means that I go through life with no goals, and thus no motivation to do anything. Which kind of means that I’m in a permanent standby mode, waiting for something, anything to change, yet not being proactive about it.
    Anyway, that’s my rambling there.


    • Great thoughts. Do you want to have goals? Or are you good with life happening to you as it comes?


      • Kari N.

        It’s hard to not live in standby mode when you don’t know where you want to go. Some sort of goal (that I don’t immediately rule out because it’s unattainable) would be a good thing.
        It’s interesting, when I saw that deb had mentioned depression, and thought of you being the one to write this, I started thinking of my own struggles with depression. I’ve always assumed that being pessimistic, lacking motivation, not believing in dreams coming true, etc., is just part of my personality. But now I’ve started wondering if these things are related. I know that other people struggle with being pessimistic and standby mode and all that, but now I’m wondering if it’s more prevalent or more amplified in those of us with tendencies toward depression. Do you find you’re more like this in a depressive phase? When something’s part of your personality it’s hard to change, but if it’s the depressive tendencies, perhaps there’s hope for me after all. Perhaps if I’m somehow more proactive (don’t know how yet, since this would all be new) I can plow through it instead of resigning myself to that just being how I am.
        Again, just thoughts that you got me thinking.


      • I definitely let life happen without much thought when I am in a “down.” There are lots of proactive things that I do – get enough sleep, stay on a regular sleep cycle (or try to – even when I feel great), and stay connected with others who challenge me. Other things that I need incorporate more into my life is regular exercise (natural endorphins fight depression), healthier eating patterns, and more regular times reading the Bible and praying. Honestly – the blog not happening is part of life on standby. I want to write and engage with others through writing, but I just let it slip away. I now have a goal of 3 blogs per week. We’ll see how it goes!


  3. Kari N.

    Here’s one of my favorite quotes from my cherished soul mate, Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien:
    ” …[In] times of peace we get, perhaps (and naturally and for the purpose rightly), too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or a making one fit – for what? At any minute it is what we are and what we are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts.”


      • deb

        Perhaps I should have stated that I do suffer from depression and have for a long time. I know this and am fairly active in dealing with talk and meds.But the fact remains that the motivation etc gets to me more at some points of this life of mine and I really wish it were just a lack of direction.


      • Thanks for the clarification! I think that motivation is a huge part of being in standby mode. Even if we know the direction that we should head, having the energy to get there can be a struggle.


      • deb

        Amen to that!


  4. Pingback: Music Monday: “Carry On” by Fun. | slowingtheracingmind

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