I have been watching the first series of Broadchurch. I know I’m years behind the rest of the country, but I’ve been as hooked as they were. Last week I had a choice – stay up late and watch Episode 8, or have a bath, wash my hair, and get a reasonably early night.
As my hair would have looked horrific in the morning, I decided on the latter. I considered hurrying up and getting out to watch. But I decided against it, because actually, a tiny part of me didn’t want to watch that episode. Of course I was desperate to know ‘whodunit’ and to know why, but I also didn’t quite want it to end.
My book club have taken the approach of reading a quarter of the book at a time before we discuss and read on. We are reading a ‘whodunit’ (by Rachel Abbot – heartily recommended, start on ‘Only The Innocent’) and the discussion is rife with theories, perceptions and gradual uncovering of the story. While at times it is almost too tempting to read on, I manage to resist. (Although sometimes I’ve read the next few pages during book club…) The anticipation of reading the next part is made all the better by the discussion and the wait. Having just (approximately 3 moments ago) finished her fourth book for book club, adrenaline is still coursing through my veins and my mind is screaming several unanswered questions. My investment in the book is now weeks long, and my opinions of characters formed. The enjoyment is heightened by the investment that came in waiting.
In the case of both Broadchurch and book (Stranger Child – don’t read this one first, you’ll ruin the flow), I have sat, appalled expressions on my face, gasping, with cries of ‘no it can’t be like that!’. On Skype to a friend while watching episode 8, she was met with a silent and horrified me (for visual image think Edward Munch’s Scream), and fellow train travellers may have marvelled at the facial contortions I have pulled whilst reading. At times I’ve had to put the book down in order to calm my pounding heart before continuing. Not gasping in shock, horror or elation is difficult.
Society today wants things now. It doesn’t want to wait. Instant gratification means you can order pretty much anything online and have it with you within hours. I’m as guilty of this as the next person. The first Rachel Abbott book I met, I consumed in an evening. We are used to getting things when we want them, and waiting is difficult.
However , much as I have wanted to read and watch, the wait has had an enjoyment all of its own. A sense of delicious anticipation. The not-knowing and pondering on it is exciting. There are so many areas of my life where I don’t know what will happen next, or when it will happen. Living my life trying to get to the next moment, hurrying along to the next part of my plan might make me feel like I’m moving forward, but what am I missing?
As I ponder the plot of the book, or piece together parts of the murder investigation, the time of waiting is learning and growing in knowledge. If I apply the same to my life I am missing the chance to mull over the meetings, conversations, and just take time to think a little. Waiting isn’t a waste of time. Fast forwarding through life to the next part means I miss out enjoying the here and now, and feeling excited about the next events.
This isn’t to say action is bad. In fact action can be good, timely, and sometimes needs to be immediate. But in action, I’ve learnt that it’s not all that easy to anticipate what will come next. And that I don’t need to anticipate it. I would never have guessed the Broadchurch culprit (hence my horrified gasps). I couldn’t believe the twist in the book, more than I dared hope for.
But waiting has a merit of its own. It’s in waiting that we grow and learn. We take stock, and we develop our character. It’s something I’m learning afresh – to enjoy the anticipation of the unknown.
Who knows what the future holds in store?
Not to know is okay. And not to know is actually pretty exciting.