Saturday, August 18, 2012

On Waiting

Inside of the dash and scramble, the glory and anguish, the blaze and murk of gloom - within this story we are writing as we breathe and love and hate and dream, are moments that define us.  Much as ink on parchment....

The rasp of my charcoal seems loud in the room as I sketch the arch of the brow.  Black dust drifts across her cheek, I blow it away.  Bars of afternoon sunshine trace lazy patterns on the floor, shifting as the curtains billow in the breeze of the open window.

I am waiting.

Waiting is a hiatus.  A pause.  A breath held.  I find few things tell me more about a person than watching them wait.  The ability to wait with elegance is a component I believe supremely important to a complete childhood upbringing, it's the foundation of civilized life as we know it.  Waiting to speak, play, ask.  Stand in line, raise your hand, take your turn.  Waiting, if carefully nurtured, gives birth to anticipation; delicious appreciation of the moment achieved.  However, if not practiced regularly with self-control and discipline, it can spawn rage, frustration, and an acidic impatience rooted in self-centeredness that will slowly eat away at any joy you hope to hold. 

For waiting is like the air.  As the seasons and the sun and death and summer rain....waiting is inevitable.  From the moment of conception, we wait.  For dawn, we wait.  For dusk.  For first kisses and true love and bended knee, we wait.  For winter's end.  The bread to rise, the light to turn, the children to sleep....we wait. 

What do you do while you wait?  My mother told me once, never to pray for patience.  For such a prayer was the unleashing of disaster in your life; the upending of plans and goals--messes upon hold-ups upon delays--all which would, in the end, lead to patience.  But a lesson of cost, be careful.  I've never prayed thus, but still chuckle with friends about one day writing a book titled, "Living In The Two Percent."  For by golly, if there is a 98% chance that all will work out just fine....I am in the two.  Every.  Time.  And honestly, my closest friends laugh, cringe a little...and agree.

All is not lost, however, for within the hospital stays and duplicate paperwork and broken plans, I have found indeed almost a....kinship with waiting.  Perhaps it is that this world is endlessly fascinating to me.  I can be mesmerized by the dust as it frolics on the wind and have spent an afternoon on my knees in the damp soil, taking pictures of the bleached skeleton of a tiny bird.  The bones were like ivory threads, knit together with such artistry, such symmetry, their grace nearly took my breath away.  Loveliness left in death's cold wake.  I was waiting for the boys return from fishing that day; I never would have found those ossien beauties if I hadn't been stranded, time on my hands.

I've written some of my best work in the doctor's office.  Composed poetry while in line at the bank.  I carry pencils and charcoal in my purse, napkins and the back of old lists becoming my canvas when the waitress is lagging or the train late.  I'm not claiming a passive acquiescence at all times, trust me--there is a storm abrew once in a while--but I find conquering my internal turmoil, my desire to demand and shout, to be strangely cathartic.  Proof somehow, that I may not be able to control the world--but I can control my response to it.  The way we wait defines us, much as my chalk defines the shape of her eye, the curve of her cheek.  Within that exercise of the art of the wait, I find peace.  Time I wouldn't have had to reflect, contemplate....time to ruminate and wonder and muse. 

The art of the wait.

....I've been thinking about the patience
of ordinary things, how clothes
wait respectfully in closets
and soap dries quietly in the dish, 
and towels drink the wet from the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.                                     

                                          Pat Schneider


Susan said...

I love this post! I usually LOVE waiting time. I almost always have crocheting or reading material in my purse, just WAITING for me to have a period of WAITING so that I can indulge myself.

Anthony said...

This is wonderful writing.

Darla said...

I too enjoyed this post very definitely have a gift in your ability to put thought to paper. Thank you for sharing.

Christine Macdonald said...

Beautiful, poetic and resonating.

Waiting is like listening - more often than not, we must learn to do them better.

Perhaps it's just me. Just with myself, that I need to be more patient, and listen.

Thank you for another thought provoking post. x

Farmer monk said...

Waiting is the courage of a Zen monk!

Your words are a refuge...

Big bow,


(Previously Ariel Pork, Austin, Aj, but now, Just Kogen

terlee said...

And for one of your excellent bits of writing: It's always worth the wait.

Mary said...

That was lovely as always.

Anonymous said...

I have sit on a hillside all day in one spot......waiting. When are you going to draw me?

The Loerzels said...

Wow I wish I could sketch like you. I need something to help the wait. Maybe I could get a slinky or some sline and put those in my purse. But that sounds really messy.
By the way, I tweeted your post. Don't know if you're on Twitter, but your post now is.

suman said...


Apropos to your article,which is worthy enough and it is to be praised by all. Those who will enjoy your writing.
Barring the published comments i would like to impinge on propound a theory that "Waiting" its a part of our life,which is the pedestal of success.
If, any person will have wanted to climb at pinnacle of zenith, At that time,needs to keep on persevere and tenacity till arrive at his/her desired results.
In fine,waiting is the ulterior word to every person those who wants to get the right award by his/ her dedication and scarifies for self & others in this beautiful world.

Chantel said...

Susan--I know exactly what you mean, sometimes getting caught somewhere is the only downtime I get!

Anthony--thank you!

Darla--thank you, such a sweet comment. :)

Christine--I like that, 'waiting is like listening'--a wonderful thought.

Kogen--thank you, and like the new name. :)

Terlee--lol, I'm glad you think so--with my boys home for the summer and my grandmother too--it's been crazy!

Mary--and you are gracious, as always. xo

BamaTrav--that's one long wait! And I only draw people when they don't know it...

Marie--slime and slinkies, I love the way you think! Babe, I don't know anything about twitter--but still feel honored!! (you may have to tutor me...)

Suman--beautifully said! It's amazing how much of any journey, waiting is. It challenges us, makes us more.

Freckled Philologist said...

I loved this so much that I just read it out-loud to oldest daughter, Behind Green Eyes, slowly and with emphasis. She didn't think she had the time, or better, the patience as we are both so tired this evening, but it was worth the slow contemplative read. Waiting well has often been my downfall on the big things in life. A sure character flaw. And yet, as you've said, doing it well can bring such contentment and peace.
Have you heard of the book, When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd? I think you might like it.
With ongoing admiration of wonderful expression of your very creative soul,
Your friend in Asotrga

Slyde said...

ah, another good post...

the art of patience (and waiting productively) is something i try to instill in mini-me.

it is an uphill battle...

The Path Traveled said...

Chantel, This is beautiful! I love how you write, how the words flow off the screen on my laptop and fill my mind with the photos that are in your story's. It is if I were watching it unfold as you tell it, Thank you for sharing another wonderful blog post!

Shea Goff said...

And this I find, as always, was worth the wait. Beautiful.

ND Mitchell said...

Got me thinking as always :)

Peaceful Warrior said...

Chantel my dear friend, not only can you paint, draw, sketch and write you have a gift to inspire and to bring tears from below the surface. Again I am in awe of your storytelling and reason. I'll never forget Juanita either.
Keep up the great work that you are sharing with us all here and the world at large.
God bless you


The Empress said...

Such beautiful words, like a peaceful dream.

It depends on what you wait for: good news? Bad news? news from a dr? Money to pay bills?

I don't mind waiting, unless the result at the end of the wait, is something that might undo me.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful writing once again! As much as I hate it, I can't seem to avoid waiting on something every single day. I lack the patience to handle it with as much grace as you do. However, I do like your mom's theory of never praying for patience. :o) Smart lady, that one.

That quote at the end...beautiful. I love the line about the soap drying quietly in the dish. It's peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Chandra you are so right patience can be elevated to a form of
spiritual elegance.

this piece should be read in every classroom -elementary thru. high school.

Pat S. quote is beautiful to me because I am obsessed with the
life of objects and yes they do
have extraordinary patience.

Mel Heth said...

Sometimes I wonder if all the "doing" is actually another way of waiting to get back to those gaps where we watch the wind in the trees or admire bird skeletons. I wonder who we would all be if we were doing the "waiting" stuff most of the time.

Anonymous said...

O! sorry, I mean Chantel.