waiting room

Standard

“’You got the good heart. Underneath all the other stuff. Good heart is eighty-five percent of everything in life.’” –Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon

But… what about the other 15 percent? A mess? Evil? An eternal waiting room.

Cold never bothers me, but the snow. My god, the snow. Watching each morning dawn earlier, light filtering in before 6 in the morning, I want to squeal with delight. Even if it’s -20C. It’s bright! Is anything sweeter than the combination of early, ever-lengthening light and the slow promise of warmer days? Just a matter of waiting for it to change completely.

I keep thinking of something I want to write, but the thought slips away from me before I write it down. So I wait.

I keep finding myself having to say to people, who ask me supposedly simple questions about myself, “We are people. Not elevator pitches.” Yet, every day we are asked in one way or another to reduce ourselves to 30 seconds or less. Take up less space and speak fewer words. I patiently wait my turn, only to be told to hurry it up or be interrupted; no one has time for more than 20 seconds of your face and words.

Presence is, after all, just waiting. I am just waiting.

“…’isn’t it strange that we don’t know who we are? I mean, we know so little about ourselves it’s shocking. We tell ourselves a story and we go along believing in it, and then, it turns out, it’s the wrong story, which means we’ve lived the wrong life.’” The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt

I am waiting (waste of time) to see if I have lived the wrong life by choosing never to decide anything. Never to involve anyone else in the decisions I have made. I am waiting to declare that my prime has passed (“‘One’s prime is elusive. You little girls, when you grow up, must be on the alert to recognise your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur. You must then live it to the full’.” –The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark).

Perhaps there never was a ‘prime’ – and even if there were, I lived it within the wrong confines, the wrong story or context, afraid to embrace it and afraid even of myself. Until a cascade of waiting rooms and endless waiting became the definition of life. Was the prime of life eaten away slowly by waiting – for something to happen, for something to go away, for something or someone that could never fit into the context I was hiding myself in? Waiting, still waiting, be present. It’s only later, in some new reality, that this waiting feels as though it was tedious. The waiting, as it happens, feels full of questions, urgency, anxiety, imbuing each moment with the feeling that something is happening, – or will, any second now – good or bad. Only much later, if I make it, does the perception change.

“‘Why are things as they are? Must they be as they are? What might they be like if they were otherwise?’ To ask these questions is to admit the contingency of reality, or at least to allow that our perception of reality may be incomplete, our interpretation of it arbitrary or mistaken.” –No Time to Spare – Thinking About What Matters, Ursula K. LeGuin

arctic landscape

Standard

Balance
Adam Zagajewski
I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport’s labyrinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day’s sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash