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.