What does waiting mean to you? We wait constantly, right now for the new year, for the pandemic to end, for that job we have been optioned for to be confirmed, for relationships to end, for relationships to be rekindled, for the passport we have applied for to be issued without delays, for the PCR test we took and posted to the lab to be delivered on time, for the train to arrive at destination , for the end of travel restrictions etc. etc.
Life begins in earnest the moment we are born and then it proceeds in one direction only, a series of present moments soon turning into past and leading into the future, always unknown and unpredictable, till we finally die. Our lives, long or short though they may be, are filled with activities, encounters, movement, always propelled forward, but also punctuated with endless waiting, till that moment of reckoning, when death comes. I always imagine death to be as it appears in The Seventh Seal, a stern gentleman who plays chess and comes to fetch you and then leads you into a wild dance. Sometimes, tired of waiting, we take our own life, inviting death to come sooner but society does not allow suicide and thus it is always a messy affair.
Raymond Tallis, in an essay for Philosophy Now wrote the following:
"The narrative of our lives sometimes seems like a densely woven network of ‘not yets’. ‘Now’ is simultaneously fattened and hollowed out by the future to which it points, and which, along with the past, makes sense of it. Indeed, it is only because the present is both impregnated and eaten away by a past that makes you someone who waits, and also shapes the future for which you wait, that now is more than an uninhabitable instant".
The antidote to the ennui of waiting is living in the present, in the now. But waiting and the anxiety that accompanies it sucks you in and the now becomes filled with questions about the elusive future which we would like to know before it happens.
A new book edited by Shahram Khosravi explores waiting through essays, poetry , art and fiction. Waiting is linked with the senses, for sensing it is what gives substance to waiting and the political dimension of waiting is not neglected, intersected by gender, citizenship, class and race. I particularly enjoyed the piece by Omar Mehrgan, 'A tenuous case of trust' . The link with waiting is not immediately obvious but one can easily unearth it. It's the connection Mehrgan makes between trust and love that resonated: 'one must fall in love as if for the first time ever, for one must have trust in love or have trust in trust itself' concludes Mehrgan.
I leave you to ponder over it.