After all, we were young. We were fourteen and fifteen, scornful of childhood, remote from the world of stern and ludicrous adults. We were bored, we were restless, we longed to be seized by any whim or passion and follow it to the farthest reaches of our natures. We wanted to live – to die – to burst into flame – to be transformed into angels or explosions. Only the mundane offended us, as if we secretly feared it was our destiny. By late afternoon our muscles ached, our eyelids grew heavy with obscure desires. And so we dreamed and did nothing, for what was there to do, played ping-pong and went to the beach, loafed in backyards, slept late into the morning – and always we craved adventures so extreme we could never imagine them. In the long dusks of summer we walked the suburban streets through scents of maple and cut grass, waiting for something to happen.
― Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter
The ground was so far below him, he could barely make it out through the grey mists that whirled around him, but he could feel how fast he was falling, and he knew what was waiting for him down there. Even in dreams, you could not fall forever. He would wake up in the instant before he hit the ground, he knew. You always woke in the instant before you hit the ground.
Whereas during those months of separation time had never gone quickly enough for their liking and they were wanting to speed its flight, now that they were in sight of the town they would have liked to slow it down and hold each moment in suspense, once the breaks went on and the train was entering the station. For the sensation, confused perhaps, but none the less poignant for that, of all those days and weeks and months of life lost to their love made them vaguely feel they were entitled to some compensation; this present hour of joy should run at half the speed of those long hours of waiting.
At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.
―Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.
―Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
For many years a tree might wage a slow and silent warfare against an encumbering wall, without making any visible progress. One day the wall would topple–not because the tree had suddenly laid hold upon some supernormal energy, but because its patient work of self-defense and self release had reached fulfillment. The long-imprisoned tree had freed itself. Nature had had her way.
―Lloyd Douglas, The Robe
We spend our lives, all of us, waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many: nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed, directed with passion, towards that which is the spirit of all things, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless effort.
After scientists broke open the coat of a lotus seed (Nelumbo nucifera) and coddled the embryo into growth, they kept the empty husk. When they radiocarbon-dated this discarded outer shell, they discovered that their seedling had been waiting for them within a peat bog in China for no less than two thousand years. This tiny seed had stubbornly kept up the hope of its own future while entire human civilizations rose and fell. And then one day this little plant’s yearning finally burst forth within a laboratory.
―Hope Jahren, Lab Girl
It is almost as if we are all playing a big game of hide-and-go-seek. We all hide expecting to be found, but no one has been labelled the seeker. We stand behind the wall, at first excited, then worried, then bored, then anxious, then angry. We hide and hide. After a while, the game is not fun anymore. Where is my seeker? Where is the person who is supposed to come find me here in my protected shell and cut me open? Where is that one who will make me trust him, make me comfortable, make me feel whole? Some people rot on the spot, waiting for the seeker that never comes. The most important truth that I can relate to you, if you are hiding and waiting, is that the seeker is you and the world, behind so many walls, awaits.
Then, one on either side, they walked me to the shore, which was black and endless. But there was a fire waiting. And there was a little meal laid out on a blanket. And there was a whole world beyond that shoreline, beyond the forest, beyond the knuckle mountains, beyond, beyond, beyond, not beneath the surface at all, but beyond and waiting.