I’m sitting in a waiting room in a hospital reading Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects.
I learnt at the end of last year that waiting is a state of mind. Whenever I was in a place of waiting, whenever I was in a rush, I would tell myself that these mind states were chosen.
Is it possible just to be exactly where I am?
When I am waiting for someone else, I am waiting for them to make a judgement of my value; something I have never allowed on a personal level since realising this, and something I will never knowingly do to another being. So unless we are allowing ourselves to wait when we are discontent and are indeed ready to act, we have no choice but to accept this state.
Suddenly I was reading about metaphorical waiting rooms, thinking about the state of waiting and physically sitting in a room constructed for waiting. I’ve said the word so many times now I’m starting to get impatient with myself.
So what does it mean to exist in a world in a waiting room? Essentially, that is what this year has been in the most unimaginable way possible. Everything is changing, month to month. I barely have any idea what kind of world I’m designing for. Am I designing for a December 2020 world? Or am I designing for a new normal world? Or will I deny that any of this is really happening?
But the fact that most of us are waiting is undeniable. Waiting for a third tier lockdown, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for an election, waiting for justice. Simply waiting to see people we love dearly again.
Honestly? I hate it. I am built for chaotic cities, I’ve been designed to crave spontaneity, to demand clarity and to be pushed. But when the world stopped and was lead back to the waiting room as chaos unfolded, there was nothing left to do but be still. Patience is demanded from us.
I’m not good at waiting. I’m not good at doing nothing. I’m especially bad at expecting others to be made of the same fabric. But I am good at acceptance once I’ve done all I can to ramify a situation.
Here’s what I learnt in the face of a world I wasn’t built for.
More than anything else as of late, I’ve been confronted by the closed doors of the waiting room. The insular nature of it all, where we are expected to live in a microcosm world of our own choosing. 'Our own choosing', but that is of course within the strict confines of government legislation, ideological monopolies and, for lack of a better expression, social norms. There’s an odd kinship here, which feels warm somedays, but often isolating, as if we have all been put in our own waiting cages which are tests of whether or not we’re able to escape or whether we’ll adhere to the expectation of waiting for ‘otherness’ and authority to save us.
The utopia of ignorance gripped me during the first lockdown. I didn’t want to know what was happening outside the waiting room - I simply wanted to know when I could finally leave it. I did everything I could to pretend like I wasn’t in that room, occupying myself with absurd goals of half marathons, rekindling - and even creating - interpersonal affairs which should have been left alone and making myself slave to the semblance of work. I barely read or watched anything, too preoccupied with what else I could force to unfold in my life in order to captivate a feeling of ‘happening’. I was, and am still reconfiguring, how I am addicted to doing and achieving, and the highs and lows of it all. I spent three months living alone, kneading the fabric of my life between my fingers, just to see in which ways it might bend, and how it might make me feel.
Now I suppose I am stuck between the waiting room and whatever it is that we are all waiting for; some new world, perhaps. I have spent so much of my life practising patience because it was what I was taught was polite. I have pleased others and submerged my own needs to avoid conflict. I have agreed, when all I really wanted to do was question why. Woman are taught courtesy instead of diplomacy, after all.
The waiting room has taught me that this will keep you exactly where you are. It will teach you how to be okay with it, until one day, you realise that the small, circular way of living you’re engaged with maintains the status quo. Now, it is time for questioning, time for learning, time for thinking outside of this room. We are born into a world that creates trouble and we must be active participants in it, whatever the cause might be.
What do we want on the other side of the room?
Will you stay or are you ready to leave?
Late October, 2020