On Waiting

laundry

I love the string of well-worn Windsors at our local laundromat

My friend Mike High was well known in our art school days for coining mock mottos and platitudes that were equally absurd and profound, a grey zone that defines the genre. One of my favorites was, “when I launder, my mind wanders; when I wander, my mind launders”. It’s been over 25 years since I last pondered this, and almost as long since I’ve spent any time in a laundromat, which is where I found myself by hazard the other night when our washing machine suddenly broke down.

I’ve had a rare confluence of circumstances over the past week that left me ‘stuck’ in situations, stripped of all options but to simply wait. It’s got me thinking about how much I miss things like riding trains, going to the laundromat, or being snowed in, and what a lost art waiting has become in contemporary life. When I managed to get my truck stuck in the mud on a remote site visit the other day, with just enough charge in my phone to call a friend to tow me out with his tractor, my only option was to sit tight for the afternoon, enjoy the sunshine and take a delicious nap in an apple orchard.

I didn’t realize the extent to which I keep occupied during the course of the day, having successfully eliminated unnecessary pauses and delays from my routine. I had forgotten the feeling of deep comfort and centered-ness and that can accompany unanticipated bouts of boredom. It seems that communications and information technologies have relieved us of many of the anxiety-causing situations that require waiting, but they’ve simultaneously distanced us from the delights of uninterrupted daydreaming. I look forward to retooling my days to increase the odds of idle reverie, and thank fate for having intervened.

lab windsors

some elegant Windsors at a laboratory waiting room in Santa Rosa


3 replies on “On Waiting”

  1. My favorite date: Playing dominoes with you at the laundromat, eating take-out shrimp fried rice from a white folded box…

  2. Great piece ! Doing nothing has always been my most favorite thing to do !! So glad you have discovered it – try to make it a habit !!

  3. My favorite date too, babe. That was the best shrimp fried rice to this day, by my reckoning. Remember when we spent the night in some kind soul’s laundromat on a cold night in north dakota or someplace, when we were venturing cross-country?

    Dad: You were certainly ahead of your time in the ‘doing nothing’ category. Cheers, old man.

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