One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Landscape of Waiting

I have been deep in thought about the process of waiting. Remember the way Dr. Seuss describes it in Oh! The Places You’ll Go!—

        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 the waiting around for a Yes or No
        or waiting for their hair to grow.
        Everyone is just waiting.

The Waiting Place. I can relate. To me, the process of waiting feels much more like a landscape than a passage of time. And because I am waiting for something that I want; because I am waiting for something that I have already expended a lot of time and energy and heart on, my waiting landscape is a stormy ocean. Imagine a rocky beach (I am thinking of one I visited on the west coast of Victoria BC.) White capped waves crashing onto the shore. A dark grey sky blurring into a slightly green, dark grey ocean. And I am standing up to my waist in it. Salt water burning my eyes and throat. My leg muscles weak from keeping me upright. Those monster waves are, of course, my anxiety, my hope, my fear that I won’t get what I want. This is my Waiting Place.

Or it was.

As I said, I have been thinking much about this. It behooves me to do so. I seem to spend a lot of time waiting. Maybe we all do. And here is what I have figured out: Where you stand within a landscape makes all the difference. It is not necessary—or even possible—to stand for very long in that kind of storm. It is also equally unnecessary—and equally impossible—to leave the storm all together. But I have finally tried stepping back. So that the waves only wash over my feet. And so that by the time they get to me they are low and slow.

It makes an incredible difference. For one thing, although the waves still rage on I am not fighting with them anymore. And for another thing, when I move back to the edge of the water, I can do other things within the landscape. Make a sand castle. Go for a run on the beach. Collect shells. You know what I mean. I can engage in something other than waiting….and other than fighting waiting.

And then from that place, in some strange and beautiful way, I can appreciate the storm. My hard work. My desire. My love. My hope.

Tam Smith

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