On Waiting

Waiting. It happens so often, so imperceptibly, and in the strangest locations—at elevators and intersections, by bedsides and telephones, in dentists’ offices and train stations. Stop whatever you are doing, even for an instant, and waiting instantly takes its place. It leaks in, like water, to fill up every available space. But waiting is not a passive state. Is a seed waiting before it germinates? Is a bird waiting as it incubates its eggs? These little intervals—between one breath and the next, between a missed opportunity and a second chance—are hard work, periods of intense activity, frantic preparation.

He also serves who only stands and waits

John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost.

What we do while doing nothing cannot be done in haste.

This abbreviated essay originally appeared in the September issue of Ode, on newsstands now.