Waiting. It fills up the mind with an emptiness that you constantly strain to hear. It agitates the blood, fizzing away like an Alka-Seltzer inside you. It smothers all activity, all thoughts, all good intentions. If you are waiting, you can’t do much else at the same time.
I am waiting. Waiting for family to arrive from the other side of the country. Waiting for the sound of their car crackling over the shingle drive. But in a city, traffic sounds can play with your hopes and keep you bouncing up and down to the window for the wrong vehicle.
I am also waiting to move house. Back to the country or, ideally, to the sea. We are both yearning to hear waves outside our windows instead of sirens; smell salt wind instead of traffic fumes. It’s long overdue.
And I am waiting for something else. Perhaps it is the impending move that holds me back; prevents me from embarking on my grand plan for the next few years of my life. Or perhaps that’s just an excuse. Perhaps I am afraid of failure.
In the garden and on the hills around the city, many trees are still green; others have coloured and shrugged off their leaves like a summer coat. They, too, are waiting – for the inevitable November gales that will sweep in Winter and the end of another year.
The only ones who are doing something while they wait are the birds and squirrels. Long-tailed tits and robins, blackbirds and doves – all stocking up with berries with an increased urgency as the weather changes. Expecting the change in season but not sitting still, passively waiting for circumstances to roar up against them like crashing surf. They get on with things. They get ready.
There’s a difference between being cautious and being timid. If you are cautious but confident, you remain in charge; if you are timid and hold back, deferring to others and fate, you are run over and left to scrape up your broken pieces from the debris that others have left behind. No one is truly on your side: in the wild, despite many altruisms for family, it’s everyone for himself. Survive or die. No one sits back unprepared, simply waiting for things to get better.
So I will be like the overwintering birds and squirrels and, in other climes, the bears, elk and dormice, getting ready for whatever comes. Coasting may be easy and, to an extent, exciting, but at the mercy of the wind and waves you may never reach your desired destination; and you may miss the little side-channel that could lead to wonderful things. You have to be at the helm of your life, flexible if you need to be against buffeting waves and changing winds, but in control so you can broach the storms.
My waiting is over. I am going to do.