Saturday, January 4, 2014


What are you waiting for?

Waiting  is such a strange state.
It takes us away from our normal world and regular activities, placing us in a holding pattern, a limbo state.

We spend much of life waiting for life to happen.

We have special rooms designed just for waiting.
We sit quietly waiting for appointments in offices, procedures in hospitals,  turns at the counter or the window, news we are expecting, and impending events--we wait and we wait...

Waiting takes up much of our time.

And what do we do while wait?
We read our books while waiting for our financial planner, our lawyer, or our next business meeting.
We write emails while waiting for the movie to start,  doors to open, the check-out line to move.

Sometimes waiting is happening against the backdrop of life marching forward.
We wait on our loved ones to return home, for the baby to be born, for the much needed vacation to start-- while in the meantime we go about our routine activities.

Faith Wilding writes about  everyday-everyman-everywoman waitings --all the various ordinary waiting experiences we suffer or enjoy -- from infancy to adulthood, and all the childish hopes and teenage angst in between--in Waiting: a Poem.

Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . 
Waiting for someone to come in 
Waiting for someone to hold me
Waiting for someone to feed me 
Waiting for someone to change my diaper
Waiting . . .

Waiting can be a wishing for or a hoping against --  we can be waiting for our ship to come in or hoping the other shoe does not drop.

What are you waiting for?

Waiting can be an eternal hope-- as we wait on divine promises.

What are you waiting for?

I have been waiting during the last days of 2013 and these first days of 2014-- my father has been in the hospital two times in two weeks.
He is still here.

We have waited for nurses and techs to come, for procedures to happen, for reports to be given, for beeps to be turned off or turned on, and tubes to be connected or disconnected, for food, for news, for family members ... we have waited...

 In the Waiting Room by Elizabeth Bishop captures this waiting room experience from a child's view and takes it beyond to a dream state. After hours in the ICU waiting room with my dad, this poem begins to capture my thoughts.

...It was winter. It got dark
early. The waiting room
was full of grown-up people,
arctics and overcoats,
lamps and magazines.
My aunt was inside
what seemed like a long time
and while I waited I read
the National Geographic
(I could read) and carefully
studied the photographs:
the inside of a volcano,
black, and full of ashes;
then it was spilling over
in rivulets of fire... 

Dr. Seuss approaches waiting differently. He considers waiting  to be  a useless and unnecessary activity  as we venture out into the world. In Oh, The Places You'll Go!,  he warns against arriving in this Waiting Place.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
 waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting...
He instead suggests that smart, ambitious folks make things happen along the way to avoid the waiting and staying.

 Click here to read  The Waiting Place by Dr. Seuss.
 Click here to  read the complete text from which it is excerpted, Oh the Places You'll Go.

Finally, there is the collective waiting, our universal, hopeful waiting for better times, a better world--for a soaring of intentions, and miraculous implementations of peace and goodwill.  Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem, I Am Waiting, first published in 1958 in A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems,  still sings out our social/political waiting, our national/ global waiting-- our human waiting.
...and I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder 
and I am waiting for someone
 to really discover America 
and wail
and I am waiting   
 for the discovery
 of a new symbolic western frontier
  and I am waiting
  for the American Eagle
 to really spread its wings
 and straighten up and fly right
 and I am waiting...
What are you waiting for?

How do you wait?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

When was the last time you waited for an appointment, an event or occurrence, a person or condition?

What did you do while you waited?
How did you wait?
Did you wait in a waiting room or go about your normal activities while you waited?

The following poem is an excerpt from a longer poem I wrote in the fall of 2009, Waiting for a Flu Shot:

gives an opportunity
to take off the burden
and weight
of going nowhere.
forces a stillness
in the river
of rushing
calls us
when we just don’t  have
the time
when we just don’t hear
the time...

Write your own  poem about a waiting experience.
You may want to describe the place where you waited, your feelings, or what you did while you waited.  You may want to be literal or metaphoric.

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