Monday, February 11, 2019

The skill of waiting

I do not wait well.  I am not sure anyone does.  According to Ajahn Sona, the Abbot of Birken Forest Monastery in British Columbia, if one is waiting one is already impatient. 

We have been waiting for the snow to stop, for the temperature to rise at least one more degree in expectation of working on our oyster lease today.  Once we decided that it is too late--the weather is not going to cooperate and we should take the day off--the sun came out for a sparkly afternoon.  So much for that expectation.

I have been waiting for time to keep working on this commission to paint the illustrations for a children's book about Winter Solstice in the north.  Of course I don't know how to paint children's images so everything takes my usual long time.  I keep expecting a painting to take a few hours and then days later--so much for that expectation too.

As if one major art project was not enough, I am continuing to work on my painting series of 47 images from dreams that guided my making the Journey Oracle deck.  A year ago I expected to complete one a month.  Now, one year and 6 paintings later, as I begin painting #7, I am letting that expectation go as well.

I am again teaching drum making to students from St. Michael's University High School in Victoria, but this year I am offering four different styles of construction so students can choose a style of drum based on research about their ancestry.  I expect to make three new drum prototypes and have been waiting for enough warm weather to work in the shop.  So far this expectation has no legs, or in the case of drums, no holes drilled and handles added.

Wait a minute!  Every time I describe waiting, I refer to expectations.  When my expectations are not met I am frustrated and impatient about not receiving a pleasant sensation from satisfying my expectations.  I have been reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.  This excellent book has lots to say about our Homo Sapien tendency to constantly expect pleasant sensations, and be constantly dissatisfied when the situation turns out differently, as it almost always does.

I admire the way our cats seem to wait so patiently for whatever is coming next.  Perhaps they are not waiting at all, but merely being in the present moment without any expectations for anything.  Wise kitties.