The waiting game: “The patience of ordinary things.”
“Patience is also a form of action.”
– Auguste Rodin
Today I found myself sitting inside a homemade teepee.
And while referring to my charges for the day as Tiger Lily and Springtime Pansy, I also found myself concocting an imaginary, medicinal tea from birch bark (is that even possible?) to cure the imaginary coughs they’d caught by sleeping too close to our drafty flap door. Welcome, my friends, to the never-ending adventure that is babysitting.
On another note, I heard back from an agent yesterday who asked to see my complete manuscript. It’s a fun moment – your heart starts racing, your mind running away with possibility, and you begin to think, hey, all those Friday nights spent writing last year weren’t for nothing!
So you send it off – this thing, your baby – and as you sit in a teepee made of sheets, you think, “Is she reading it now? Now? What about now? Is she replying to me at this very moment?”
Then the minute you get home, sheets folded away in the closet, birch tea drunk, and coughs healed, you race to your laptop. Refresh your email. Stare at an empty inbox.
And so the waiting game has begun.
I was thinking about this all afternoon – about how incredibly awful I am at waiting, at being unable to focus on anything other than what it is I’m waiting for – when I came across a link on Facebook. It was posted by Kirsten Alana, a wonderful travel blogger and photographer known best as an expert in iPhoneography.
The link was titled: “Simple Act of Waiting”
It turned out to be a blog post from photojournalist Steve McCurry (you’d no doubt recognize his photo, “Afghan Girl,” from the cover of a 1985 issue of National Geographic), filled with photos he’d shot around the world of people waiting.
Crowds of Indians waiting to bathe in the Ganges. A mother and child waiting for medical care in Kabul and refugees waiting in line in Thailand. Even a few shoppers waiting for a bus in Dublin.
Interspersed throughout the images were quotes about waiting, and a final poem by Pat Schneider called “The Patience of Ordinary Things”:
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
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.
And what is more generous than a window?
McCurry’s post was not only beautiful and timely, but humbling – a reminder that the waiting game is a part of our humanity. A reminder that there are millions, billions even, of people waiting for things far more pressing than a reply from an agent.
And that perhaps the best way for me to distract myself right now from an empty inbox is to find some sheets, build a teepee, and keep taking care of a few little Indians.