Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On waiting

Sometimes I take photos that show aspects of our daily life. One such an aspect is waiting. Waiting is something that everybody has to do now and then, and it is an “activity” that many people do not like, especially not in our modern society where everything must be efficient and where waiting time is seen as lost time. However, waiting is not simply doing nothing, being inactive. Waiting has a purpose. It is doing nothing in view of something else, and seen in this way it is a kind of activity, an inactive being active. We can express it also this way: waiting is waiting for, it is awaiting, and in this sense it is expecting.
A good example of waiting is, I think, waiting for a ferry. We arrive at the place where the ferry leaves, and we wait until it has arrived from the other side of the river or sea, and until the time has come that we are allowed to go on the boat. If we like, we can fill the time by eating, reading or who knows what, and many people do. A telephonist of an organisation who does not get many calls often gets administrative tasks to do for filling the time of waiting till the next call comes.
However, once I made a photo of a waiting scene and I realized that this waiting was different. The waiting scene grasped by the picture was actually not a waiting for, an awaiting, so it seemed to me, but the waiting in the picture had a purpose of its own. The picture showed a scene of groups of men and women in front of a church waiting until the service would have ended and the procession would leave the building (see photo). These men and women did not enter the church for taking part in the service. When I was looking at the photo, I suddenly realized why they didn’t, although it would have been quite well possible that they would enter and although some other people that arrived meanwhile did. For what these people really did was not waiting for the procession, (although they joined it when it left the church). In fact their waiting was a kind of social gathering. Talking with the other men or women in front of the church was apparently more important than the procession they were waiting for. Some people even arrived rather early. Why? Probably in order to wait longer! That is, in order to have more time to talk with the other men or women present. Waiting (so talking with the other men) was the purpose of going there, not being in time for the procession. And then the procession left the church and the waiting people joined. The social gathering had entered a new phase.

Waiting is something that everybody has to do now and then and usually we do not like it. If so, we often look for activities to fill up the waiting time and making it more useful. However, not all waiting is the same and sometimes the filling of the waiting is the waiting itself. Then it can be so that we look forward for it and that we wait for it.

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