On waiting

Discus chronologicus, a German depiction of time from the early 1720s, from Cartographies of Time
Discus chronologicus, a German depiction of time from the early 1720s, from Cartographies of Time

I am currently waiting on something that if — were it to happen — I would call the best news of 2019 so far. It feels like the longest two weeks ever. I am not the one to procrastinate most of the time, and being engulfed by the capitalist guilt of enjoying my time-off despite having done all my tasks, I turn to what I do best when I am letting time pass by — I read.

Most precisely, I read on the topic of waiting. While waiting.

Waiting, according to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, is defined as “remaining in the state of response or inaction, until something expected happens.” According to French psychologist Paul Fraisse — who also happens to be a time researcher —waiting is an activity that emerges within a temporal gap between the appearance of a need and its expectation. In essence, waiting implies accepting the interval of expected results of something to happen in the future, thereby an exercise in patience. The only barrier is time.

The relationship of waiting and expectation is implied in many languages. For example, Roman languages such as French, Italian, and German has a single word that covers both meanings for waiting and expectation: attente (French), attesa (Italian), aguardar (Spanish), and erwarten (German).

The topic of waiting appears in many instances throughout the bodies of literature — the most famous works being on how Penelope waits with equanimity, patience, and dignity by her loom for Odysseus’ return; and Vladimir and Estragon’s illusionary wait for Godot.

In my searching, I came across a very intriguing book, all on waiting, called Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World. Through the book, author Joseph Farman tries to reclaim waiting as “not as a burden, but as an important feature of human connection, intimacy, and learning.”

“Waiting, as represented by silences, gaps, and distance, allows us the capacity to imagine that which does not yet exist and, ultimately, innovate into those new worlds as our knowledge expands.”

His solution to all the anxiety of waiting? Recalibrate your frame to “view time not as individual but as collective, which is inherently a radical act of empathy — the willingness to accept another’s time as just as valuable as our own, however different our circumstances may be”.

I guess I will keep on waiting — this temporal gap in the act of endurance and empathy — as I hope for the best to happen. If you could, send me some good vibes too.

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