Today I’m waiting.
Every day has a little bit of waiting. It’s the density of the time that matters. Today it’s like mud cake. Leaden, dark, eaten with regret. It sticks in my throat and I need a drink of water before I can form words again. Mud cake waiting.
Last week while I waited, I read a delicious Murakami novel, the quality of my poise heightened by a chain smoking Japanese detective looking for a star marked sheep with tendencies towards world domination. This week, in my haste to wait, I choose a novel set in the dusty Australian outback. All dry, with laconic men and women who don’t brush their hair. I start to sweat. I could be here all day.
My synapses snap. Biting back against the bondage of this book and this place. And yet I must wait. Monkey mind turns inward to the memories of feeling. To the locus of the waiting stories. To add another layer of sedimentary evidence to the fossil record. Of how I have lived with waiting.
I think of when waiting has nearly undone me with pleasure. As a child before Christmas, for my turn on the swing with my father pushing me into the sky, for dessert, for a sleepover, for Sunday when I could wear my new shoes with the big bows on them, for my baby brother to be born and for my own room.
As an adolescent I waited with anticipation for permission to do the things my older sister did, to get my ears pierced, to spend my pocket money on records, and stay up late. I didn’t wait for a boyfriend but when he came, I waited for him to go away. I waited an agonisingly long half moment for popularity and was surprised by the joy of beloved and singular friendship instead.
In my adulthood waiting comes to call with a litany of specters. I have waited for word from a lover lost in freewheeling adventure, and for my child to tell me he is safe, for a Doctor to say ‘it’s nothing serious’ and for the figs to ripen on the branch. For summer to end and then for winter to end. For a heartbreak to heal and a cake to rise. And for what gods know.
It is not uncommon in my part of the world for people to ask themselves a rhetorical question: “And what was I waiting for? God knows!” or to say “God knows what I was waiting for”. Elongating the knows and emphasising it with heavy Australian drawl. As I sit here today, in my mud cake waiting, I ponder. Does God know? This is not a theological rumination on my part. This is a reflection on the quality of my waiting. While my fossil record will clearly show an egregious placement of artifacts sifted from sadness and pleasure, it will never show that I waited for God knows what.
Waiting is a bitingly human conundrum. And while we might wait until the weather clears or the rain falls or the world turns, we are waiting so we can do our next bit of being human. Eating, sleeping, working, driving, performing, harvesting, droving, mining, filming, gardening, kissing, camping, playing the ukulele, skydiving, investing in the stock market, whatever. The gods don’t bother that much with finding out what the heck I’m waiting for and the feeling is pretty mutual.
Something always happens to end waiting. Always. Even if it is a long wait, a lifetime maybe. And that’s what we wait for. The end of waiting.
And perhaps that is what gods know.