Arathi Menon writes about the most useless emotion at our disposal - waiting - and how we inevitably cling on to it for dear life
The sky is the colour of smudged ink and the city where I live in now is anxiously waiting a rain, which will announce the beginning of winter. A friend of mine here says he doesn’t want to take out his woollens till that downpour. Poor guy, every day for the past week, shivering in a summer jacket, he has hoped the clouds will change form to touch the earth.
Another friend called. After five years of waiting for someone she considered her true love, she has decided to ‘move on’. I can sense the sadness and the freedom in her voice. We have been asking her to do this forever but I guess, she was unable to till she exhausted her patience to wait.
I could never imagine doing what she did. I am not a patient person and for me this waiting is always vexatious. I like to get things done promptly, efficiently. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way and certain things will happen only when the time is right.
It is truly one of the most frustrating processes we go through. That long, endless stretch before a holiday, the depressing pause between applying for a job and getting one, the unbearable ache of waiting for that thing you desire most, unsure whether you will ever get it.
To cope with waiting I have a few mechanisms. I pace up and down furiously till sheer exhaustion drops me into a senseless sleep. Or I watch brain-dead TV, the absolute mediocrity of its content crawls into my brain and renders me numb to any emotion. Or I chew my nails till they look like misshapen stubs, frayed and hurting at the ends, victims of an uncontrollable impatience.
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My partner, on the other hand, has perfected the art of waiting. If he wants something badly, he will do everything required to attract it and then he will forget about it. He develops selective amnesia. He doesn’t brood about why things aren’t moving fast, about whether he has done enough, about how long he has to wait. He moves onto other things. Not a second is spent on brooding. Finally, when that thing he wasn’t waiting for comes, he accepts it with such equanimity I want to throw a weight at him.
All of us know waiting is the most useless emotion. It doesn’t help anything. It just hangs around increasing our wretchedness every passing second. Yet, we cling on to it and most us can never escape its clutches. The only good part is that all waiting is finite. After a particular period of time it has to end. Whether that is for better or for worse, you will have to wait and see.
Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.