What is waiting, anyway? Actually, we all know how to do that well, right? But let’s see what a couple of artists have to say.
At the Rochester Fringe Festival, which is a celebration of drama, music and dance, I had the opportunity to purchase a ticket to an on-line performance called, “Waiting,” by Harshita Guha. What could I do? Godot is all about waiting. Of course, I bought the $3.00 ticket. The show has now expired, which means I can at least describe to you what the artist explored about waiting.
A woman sits in a windowsill. Behind her are two arched windows with leaded glass side by side. An insistent piano alternates a driving rhythm with softer chords. The filming focuses on fingers, toes, hands, toes, forehead. And she begins with the most provocative announcement: “It’s time to begin waiting.” I thought this was an interesting approach because I thought you were either waiting or not, yet, apparently, you can begin to wait, which, in my mind, is much like waiting.
So, I said to myself, “Self, let’s look up waiting.”
Do you address yourself as, “Self?” Once at dinner party I happened to mention the three voices we have in our heads. My daughter took this up immediately. “Three voices?” She only has two, she said. If we have “me,” “myself” and “I,” who is my daughter leaving out, I wonder. Perhaps that third variable is the origin of the Greek chorus who provides on-stage commentary.
ETEMOLOGY OF WAITING
“Waiting” comes from old French, gaitier, which means to “watch” or to “survey.” It’s related to the word “guard” and “waiter.” It is also related to the word “wake.” I was so excited: “wake,” are you kidding me, as in to hold a wake? No. As in to be awake. Ah. But we are certainly waiting in a wake, for the soul to pass, for the grief to subside, for the shoe to drop.
READER 1: Does she have to be so dark?
READER 2: It is the theatre of the absurd, after all. Everything makes it in there at one point or another.
READER 3: What time is it?
Here she is in her own words: Theatre Acting Course / How I got into Theatre Acting: “After completing my post-graduation in Theatre, I was trained under Duende School of Physical ensemble theatre, UK. After that, I have done many performances in Delhi as a live theatre actor under many theatre companies such as Prastan Delhi. I directed Children’s theatre for Hindi Academy, Govt of India, and worked with three Delhi based international schools.”
Interspersed with an Indian language, maybe Hindi or Gujarati, the artist presents a meditation on waiting. “Everyone is waiting for the day to end, the phone to ring, for the train to come, or the bus to go. “
A crack in the brick wall is her waiting area. “Where are you waiting?” she asks us. She assumes we are waiting, and in fact, we are, aren’t we? And for what?
“Waiting around for a yes or no;
Waiting for the moon to rise
Waiting on you to realize
Waiting for another chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
I felt it. In a breaking down to build it again. In the promise to renew.
I felt it.
Hang on a second.
In the emptiness before a new breath; In the heaviness before the eyelids shut.
I felt it.
I’m there. I’m waiting. Whispers. Hang on a second.
Now you remember. You felt it too.”
There’s a richness in her waiting, that I must admit has been missing in mine. The Indian language, which most of us don’t understand, even gives a mystery to writing.
The history of the Gujarati language shows the political tension in the attempts to purify the language. But this video is just a fun intro to speaking.
So just for fun, I thought I’d search on YouTube to see if the artist had any other videos, and look what I found! Waiting! I clicked on the subscribe button to show some solidarity with the arts, since we get to enjoy her meditations for free.
In the comments under the video I read the name of the musician. So I went and looked for just the music if you need something to do the dishes to: Said and Done
Our second artist, Jackie Polzin, a writer, likewise gives us a brief meditation on writing more in situ in her novel called Brood. The narrator’s husband, Percy, has applied for a teaching job at a university. Here’s an update on, as they say in French, sa candidature, his job candidacy.
“Percy received a letter from the prestigious university. The letter states that he will soon receive another letter with the details of its decision. We have waited for a decision, and now we have received a letter confirming our wait. The letter says nothing, but says so on expensive paper. When held to the light there is proof of the university and its prestige. Percy claims a letter that says nothing means something. I think this is true only if the letter has a postscript, in which case the postscript says everything. P.S., this letter has none. Percy is confident the delay of the news is the best news possible. If in fact an offer is forthcoming, the additional wait suggests tight circles are expanding outward to consolidate funds on our behalf. As a rule, my husband creates certainty where none exists.”
Both of these projects are refreshing views on the art, shall we say, or the curse, of waiting. The worst is when you have a list of errands: stand in line at customer service; wait for any number of lights to turn; wait in line at the drive through. But then, something fun can happen. Once somebody paid it forward for my coffee. And while we’re waiting we can think of those spaces In the emptiness before a new breath; In the heaviness before the eyelids shut. We can also grab a friend like Vladimir grabbed Estragon, or vice versa, because in the words of Ted Lasso to the team after they lost a game, “You are sad. But you are not sad alone.” Those two vagrants now seem to me not at all like victims of Godot’s caprice, who says he’ll meet them and doesn’t, but more like pioneers of waiting,
P.S. Percy got the job! See, optimism is not forbidden.