This is an outtake from a month or so ago, taken after the shoot was called complete and the boy was waiting for the rest of his family to gather their things together and head home. He was sitting right by the front door, so I’m thinking he was really ready to leave. I kind of liked how the light was playing with the texture of his braids, so I went to the back and grabbed a camera. When I returned he was still waiting, but as I raised my camera I immediately sensed a shift in his demeanor. Now he was waiting with attention, which is an altogether different kind of inactivity. Waiting with attention is knowing you’re in the process of moving on to the next experience, but it hasn’t yet begun, so you consciously decide to get comfortable with the oftentimes tedious and boring task of waiting. You give the waiting your full attention.....you stay with it.
To be perfectly honest, I’m a terrible waiter. Not as in waiting on tables in a restaurant, I did that years ago and managed just fine in that area. But waiting for anticipated news to arrive, standing in long lines, and especially being stuck in traffic....this sort of waiting has always been a challenge for me. I’m finally getting that each experience of waiting is actually an opportunity to practice patience, and it doesn’t have to be painful. Waiting with attention can be as rich as the next activity we’re heading towards. Richer actually, because it’s happening now.
Photography has been a most wonderful teacher in my learning to wait with attention, and I now have no trouble at all when camera is in hand. Still some work to do though, when I find myself trapped on the interstate in a vehicle that hasn’t budged in forever, but I’m slowly getting friendlier with even that form of waiting. Ü