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It’s difficult to wait for something.

How many times in your life have you really had to wait? Usually if something you look forward to is happening in the future, you pass the time until then. The show is on the 12th of next month, today is the 23rd, so you’ve got about three weeks. You’ve got other things to do until then and little time to wait around. Occasionally you remember the event: two weeks, one week, three days to go. And for a moment out of time you stand in expectation, imagining the day of the event, seeing it as if you’re already there, before returning with a jolt to the present moment’s business. Apart from these moments where you stand in readiness, you’re not really waiting. You’re just passing the time as the day approaches.

But what if all you had to do was wait?

Perhaps you don’t know exactly when the day will arrive. And perhaps this thing is very important to you. An opportunity that will change your life forever. Like Christmas morning to a child, it’s all you can think about. Everything else in the world becomes jumbled and irrelevant, noise and chaos. The only thing that has meaning now is the awaited event. Do you count the hours, minutes, seconds to the end of each day?

But even this simple act of counting becomes a jumble. Your mind cannot focus on anything as immediate as seconds, or even on the present minute or hour. What day is it? All you can think about is the moment that is not here yet. It repeats and repeats, the toll of a bell from a too distant future: not yet, not yet.

What about the place where you wait? It is a dark hole in the ground, nothing more. It has no details that will register on your mind, your brain craning out too far into the void of the future for anything in the present to impact upon it.

“I can’t wait!” says the child. And what if you literally cannot? Perhaps waiting becomes impossible when all there is to do is wait, when there is nothing that can interest you in the present moment, nothing to latch onto. You have no clear idea of where you are, of time passing … And how can you be said to be waiting if time has ceased to pass? A paradoxical notion: to wait for eternity. And you start as if from a nightmare as the vertigo of that thought hits you. That here in the dark, waiting, is where it all ends.

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4 Responses to Waiting

  1. jnauthor says:

    A bad day at the bus stop, Lee? You usually quote a source which inspired your latest write?
    If Eternity exists, then time doesn’t exist, then you cannot wait for something?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lee says:

      Haha. If it were a very important and life-changing bus, then I suppose it could be that.

      I’ve been reading Baudelaire this week, which is always inspiring.

      I would have thought that if eternity exists then time must exist, otherwise the concept would be meaningless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jnauthor says:

        Having studied Thomas Hobbes, way back in some Sixth Form lesson, I’ve always liked his idea that Eternity was a ‘permanent now’. If ‘now’ is permanent, past and future can’t exist, so there is not ‘time’ as such. No doubt you’ll shoot down my theory, Lee.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lee says:

        I think this is one of those arguments when it all depends on how you define things. I agree that “now” is permanent. And it might be true that past and future do not exist, since the one has ceased to exist and the other does not exist yet. But that isn’t an argument against the existence of time, as far as I can see, just a description of it.

        I’m sure some people would want to say past and future do exist, and I suppose they’d have to explain what they mean by “exist.” Parmenides said that past and future must exist because otherwise they could never have been nor come into being (since being is eternal) and I wonder if following him in this regard you might make an argument for the illusory nature of time. Certainly the ancients thought of time very differently from the way we do.

        I’ve never come across this in Hobbes before. Very interesting. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

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