Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting . . .

As a group, we Americans are terrible waiters. I don't mean the job as in 'waiting tables,' I mean the physical act of doing nothing in anticipation of something. The online dictionary, found here, tells me that waiting has many uses in our language.

Noun - a period of waiting, pause, interval or delay
Adjective - serving or being in attendance
Idiom - in waiting - in attendance, as upon a royal personage (really? this sounds the same as the adjective to me)
Verb (used without object) - to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens
(THIS is the one that suits my current state, which I will get around to explaining here after a bit)
Verb (used with object) - to continue as one is in expectation of (waiting one's turn)

So, if it is a word with such vast application, why do we do it so badly? Is there something inherently painful in being bored? Certainly, we've come up with enough distractions for waiting to be tolerated for at least the next three millenia, but sadly, it's not enough.

Efficiency is a god and the highest and best use of our precious commodity - time - is a goal on many lists. Maybe that is one of the things I don't get about the world. I like waiting. I like having to wait. I like anticipating an expected happening.

It lets my mind go anywhere I want to go. I get to notice the people in line who look like they will next end up on here. Or in my next book. Frankly, we miss lots of what makes up life when we try to distract ourselves from the nothingness of waiting. That's too bad. 

"Ah!" you say, "I have to wait in line at the post office with small children. What's to enjoy about that?"

I didn't say you had to enjoy every moment of waiting. I think the people in Haiti right now are thrilled to wait, because they have hope and expectation of something happening. It's all in how you look at it. 

So, today I wait. For a good thing. A new piece of furniture that I am lucky to be able to afford, and find, and have a place for. It's not about the furniture, or the inconvenience to me of having to leave work to wait and then go back. It's about being lucky enough to have the luxury of waiting. It is a luxury. 

We have the whole world to meet our daily needs, but the delivery of those services makes us wait sometimes. At least I don't have to wash my clothes with a rock in the river, or kill my food in order to be able to have dinner tonight. I'll wait.

Jo Taylor


  1. Love the last paragraph -- your musings on doing laundry and grocery shopping. Great post!

  2. Hi Leslie -

    I spent about an hour at your place yesterday and thought I said "hi," but I didn't. Thanks for reading me :)