The art of (enforced) waiting

It’s been a long day.

Up early, far too early, especially after a late night. But that was my fault and I knew what I was letting myself in for. I’d chosen to take a slightly psychotic day trip to Liverpool for the Labour party conference. Even with everything going to plan I wouldn’t be home before midnight.

But everything didn’t go according to plan, and there was nothing I could do about it. My train home suddenly stopped at Rugby station. And then the announcement came over the tannoy, that we were being held here indefinitely because of a fatality near Watford Junction.

I looked around the carriage and there was the awkward mix of reactions fused across my travelling companions’ faces. Frustration of delays on a late night train, questions of how they’d get home, whether they’d be stranded here all night, along with a sense that such annoyance was out of place when a life had been lost. I turned to twitter and the outrage was less filtered. The train buffet car suddenly started doing a brisk trade, the coffee machine getting exercise usually reserved for the breakfast rush.

So I wait. And there is nothing more I can do. There are no words that I can say that will make any difference, my actions would be less futile.

And I wonder: just how much do we rely on ourself? How frequently are we lulled into thinking that we are the masters of our existence? When all too often we are ships that are tossed on the waves, subject to the whims of the elements, affected by the comings and goings of the world we live in.

When we are forced to stop. And we have to listen. To the next announcement. And wait. For the rumbling of the train’s under carriage as we hopefully resume our progress.

But even in my compulsory reflection I am focused on where I am going.

How often in life do we do the same? Have our eyes so firmly fixed on someplace else that even when we are made stop and consider our current circumstances we are oriented by the goal that we aim to achieve. Could it be that we miss something of the wonder of the present in our hurry to reach tomorrow.

So for now I continue to gaze across the platforms of Rugby station. My frustration unabated, but without any purpose so I put it to one side.

What else do I think is my responsibility that I need to put to one side?

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