I recently took part in a waiting exercise. It was one of those ‘installations’ that necessitated booking a fifteen minute slot. I duly turned up two or three minutes before my allotted time and was admitted to a tiny anteroom and given a clipboard and pen to record some thoughts whilst I waited. Some minutes later I was given some cards which I was told I would use when I went inside. They each held a question – how long would you wait for…
Fifteen minutes after my arrival two people arrived together for the next two slots after mine. Was everything running late or was it all about waiting in the anteroom rather than whatever went on inside? One of the new arrivals was in a wheelchair and the tiny space was now very cramped; the atmosphere totally changed from when it was just me and the person who handed out the clipboard and cards.
Eventually someone came out and a few moments later I was invited in. I was greeted by a black shadowy figure – actually someone I know quite well in real life but a stranger in this surreal setting.
The space was beautiful; filled with large flickering candles each on its own black pedestal. Each represented a time span: 1 second, 5 minutes, a day, twenty years, a lifetime. The task was to place each card with the candle that represented how long I would be prepared to wait for that particular thing.
Well, how long would you wait for a bus? A main meal to be served? A good idea? A missing person to return before you believed them dead? A webpage to download?
So much of our time is spent waiting for something but what do we do with the time whilst we wait?