Saturday, October 08, 2005


Warning! This is a personal piece and quite gloomy. American Street has some political blogging by me today as on all Saturdays.

Dentists' waiting rooms are dreary places. Waiting for a sentence is horrible. Waiting for a medical test result can be desolation. Waiting is hard, but it is especially hard when what you wait for is fierce knowledge, knowledge that will turn the page in the book of your life and you may find out that it was the very last page. Or then perhaps not.

I have done a lot of this kind of waiting in the last months, not on my own behalf but on the behalf of people very close to me and now on the behalf of my dog. It is possible to get used to waiting for bad news. I was surprised to learn this but clearly we humans have the ability to get used to almost anything. So I got used to thinking about an alternative future, one without someone whom I love in it, I got used to imagining the pain and the slow withering-away of a loved one, I got used to thinking how fragile our lives are, how easily one short sentence turns everything upside-down. I got used to being powerless to affect events, to speed them up or to endure them better. I got used to waiting.

Nothing moves as slowly as the time when one waits. Nothing permeates ones life quite the same way: everything that happens happens within this slowly moving molasses of time, everything serves to remind about the time that is not passing while passing all too fast. It is the waiting itself that does the living and everything else becomes peripheral, unimportant, a faint distant echo of life as it used to be. Food is like wood, air is a smell, nothing moves, nothing feels, except for the one question for which you have no answers, except to wait, when you want to do violence to those who are holding back the answers, when you want to walk them by their necks back into the laboratories in the middle of the night, when you want to put a curse on their families, and all this because they have stopped you.

Waiting means stopping completely.