Waiting as an Experience of Fundamental Significance


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Commentary on Web Resources on Types of Waiting and Anticipation


2 Jul 2018 – It could be readily assumed that waiting is an incidental process, experienced by all in some way, but incidental to the reality of meaningful life in any society. It is however striking to note the range of conditions in which anticipation of some kind is in fact a central experience which may endure far longer than is otherwise assumed, or is repeated more frequently than people care to recall. Striking examples at this time are offered by asylum seekers waiting for some means of getting to Europe, waiting for their case to be resolved in some processing centre, or waiting for an opportunity to move out of a precarious existence on the streets.

However extended the period, such waiting is in process of being institutionalized by the European Union (Migrant crisis: EU leaders plan secure migrant centres, BBC News, 29 June 2018; All-night EU talks deliver migrant ‘controlled centres’, EUObserver, 29 June 2018). The European Project is itself in crisis awaiting a resolution of the migrant crisis (Migrant crisis: EU leaders split over new migrant deal, BBC News, 29 June 2018).

A different extreme is offered by the thousands “on death row” awaiting possible execution — or condemned to life imprisonment if their case cannot be resolved otherwise. The example of waiting for an extensive period to die at the end of a life — waiting “for release from pain” — is a process which many may experience. Clearly there is also the common experience, if not a daily one, of waiting in a queue. For some, more fundamental may be the anticipation of an event such as falling in love, winning the lottery, or achieving a salary raise. The anticipation may take quite different forms, as when waiting for creative insight or inspiration, or perhaps experiencing the promise of rapture — or “next year in Jerusalem”.

Perhaps most evident is the sense of waiting for the fulfillment of some political promise through which change of social circumstances will be achieved. That promise may however be a religious one, as with those anticipating rebirth. It may be associated with the transformation expected from the use of new technology or new investment.

The purpose of this exercise was firstly to clarify the varieties of waiting, as noted in web resources. How many forms of waiting can be experienced or are considered significant — and by whom, and from what perspective? Is that variety indicative of different qualities of waiting and anticipation, especially in terms of the nature of what is anticipated by that process?

The clarification is seen as preliminary to the possibility that there are subtler forms of anticipation to be recognized, as discussed in a concluding section. Do those waiting over longer periods, whether by obligation or by choice, shift into new modes in order to manage the waiting process more appropriately and more insightfully? Do these offer pointers to more profoundly insightful modes of waiting to which attention has yet to be adequately drawn, as previousy argued (Varieties of Recognition in Practice of an Elusive Missing Dimension, 2018).

Curiously, so framed, such a shift could be recognized as a metaphor, both for sustainability and for its anticipation. Is society in a mode of waiting for a condition of sustainability, as can be speculatively argued (In Quest of Sustainability as Holy Grail of Global Governance? 2011). Does sustainability constitute a subtler form of the waiting dynamic — collectively embodied?

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