University of Calgary

Hold On: The Life, Science, and Art of Waiting


What do you do when you're not asleep and when you're not eating? You're most likely waiting - to finish work, to get home, to finish your chores. This book is not really about how to manage all that "staying where one is until a particular time or event" (OED). It's a book describing how many people experience waiting. Waiting, which is sculpted by the passing of time, is an experience just as much as it is a situation. In this book I'll be focusing on the experience, on how it feels to wait. This experience can encompass such things as hesitation and curiosity, dithering and procrastination, hunting and being hunted, fearing and being feared, dread and illness, courting and parenting, anticipation and excitement, curiosity, listening to and even performing music, being religious, being happy or unhappy, being bored and being boring, doing business and making decisions (all of which I'll discuss). Waiting is also characterized by such brain chemicals as serotonin and dopamine. They enable the experience of waiting and they can even change the way that waiting's basis, the passing of time, is registered. Waiting, probably the most commonly experienced situation that humans and animals encounter apart from sleep, is the experience that may characterize most interpersonal relations. Mismanage it - the books, the articles, and the paintings will show you - at your own risk! But this is not what I'll try to demonstrate by the end of my book - how to live better. I'm aiming to show you simply how important the experience of waiting is, in popular and highbrow culture, and, sometimes, in history, and how it is that we cope with it and often turn it to our own advantage. Waiting concluded Toohey's trio, begun with his Boredom and then Jealousy.


ISBN-13: 9780190083618:


Oxford University Press
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