It’s there, a constant, even when I can’t see it, hanging out over my shoulder. It follows me around as it changes form, exerts its influences on the tides, and even becomes invisible.
As our students learn more about the solar system and space, I realize how little I really know about these things myself. Of course I know the names of the planets and some basic information about them. I know that the sun is our star and that our solar system is heliocentric. I know that scientists continually update their own understandings about space and its celestial inhabitants…that Pluto has been demoted and a new solar system was recently discovered.
But honestly, it’s the moon that fascinated me. I love that it appears large and low, orange like a pumpkin at some times of the year. I’m fascinated by that Cheshire cat smile that greets me on a dark, clear night. And I can’t resist those slender crescents that seem to wink into view in the warm, short nights of summer. I constantly wonder at its presence during the day…and today was one such day.
I looked up during my walk this afternoon, the sky was particularly blue as the sun shone brightly. This is really the first warm day we’ve had in a while. Tucked under the large palm, there it sat…not as bright as in the dark of night, but noticeable all the same.
I’ve struggled to photograph the moon effectively at night, but during the day, I’ve had a bit more luck. But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying to take a portrait of this friend of mine. I like knowing the moon is right over my shoulder, a constant companion I can depend on, even when I can’t see it and even when I can’t photograph it. It’s there, and that’s enough.
We do it every day in lots of ways. In the line at the grocery store or as the barista prepares that perfect latte. In the dentist’s office or in that line of cars on the metered freeway onramp. For the ladies room during that oh-so-short recess break or that important phone call you were expecting half an hour ago. Waiting…
As I walked the beach the other day I noticed a bunch of surfers out on their boards on the waves…waiting. Or were they? Does it only count as waiting if it feels like time is slipping away? That you could be doing something more important or more productive (or more fun)? As I’ve watched surfers over the years, I notice that surfing involves spending quite a bit of time sitting on the board, watching the waves develop, visiting with other surfers, perhaps even enjoying the sun (or rain or fog or even cold) in the time between actually paddling into a wave and standing up. Do surfers see that time as waiting?
When I know I am going to wait, I come prepared. I carry my book or some work I need to get done, I pull out my phone, flip through social media, news, photos. If it’s a long wait–like an airplane ride, I bring an assortment of activities and hope for access to a movie or TV shows to help pass the time. The worst waiting for me is the kind of waiting when you can’t do anything but wait–like sitting in rush hour traffic. My only options then are to listen to the radio or maybe squeeze in a phone call (hands free, of course!). But sometimes, waiting leaves you with only you to spend time with. Time for thinking and reflection…alone with your own thoughts.
So maybe waiting is about your frame of mind. When it is part of an activity you enjoy–like surfing, waiting isn’t waiting, it’s just what you do. So what about those lines at the grocery store? Can we make them more enjoyable, time spent in thought, perusing tabloid papers, visiting with the stranger in line in front or behind you? Maybe we need names for the different kinds of waiting–like the names for snow in those really cold places–to express the nuanced differences between them. I’ll be thinking about that as I sit in traffic tomorrow…