Clarity Through Delay: Part Two
by Cathleen Elise Rossiter
Delay is thought of as a bad thing by a great many in today’s society. We are trained carefully from an early age to “Act NOW!” because “Time is running out!” and if we do not make our move in this “Limited Time Only!” we will miss out, we will have missed the boat and be left behind to continue life in drudgery and toil. We will have failed if we fail to act immediately.
My own journey to attend the exhibition of Goya: Order and Disorder at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts nearly ended in my own missed boat. My entire experience surrounding the exhibition was fraught with the overhanging sense of delay, that of necessitating an heroic leap from the pier in order to land precariously on deck of the last ferry to enlightenment. As it happens, I caught the exhibition with only two days to spare before it was gone. I then spent an hour in line to get my ticket, then forty-five minutes waiting for permission to enter the gallery.
From the moment I set foot in the gallery I was knocked over with the sense of urgency and chaos, of a need to rush through the vast exhibit 1) caught in the wake of the throngs of tourists who seem to have come simply to check the event off of their Must Do While In Boston list, 2) to make certain I saw it all in the now truncated time-frame left to me, and 3) to find some small, secluded corner from which to take it all in at my leisure, away from the crush of humanity pressing me ever forward, drowning me as if caught in a riptide.
Couple the above with the multitude of selections depicting the raw, baser side of human nature and a long life that witnessed horrific events, determined to record their horror in order that the participants and victims should not be forgotten. It was all too much for my ultra-sensitive nature to take in en masse. Thankfully, I made certain to learn as much as I was able during my time at the exhibit, taking in the curators’ explanations and pointers on viewing and comparing the individual works, making as many mental notes as possible hoping for total recall when I sat down to write.
As mentioned in Part One of this series, my ability and desire to write anything about Goya’s works simply vanished the moment I exited the museum.
Not a word would allow itself to be laid upon the page. I was faced with a desert of detachment from Senor Goya and everything he was trying to say to me – a desert that stretched before me, unending. The clock kept accumulating used-up seconds, adding new baskets as each month filled to overflowing with its allotment.
Still not a word would present itself causing doubt, confusion, and frustration.
The words finally came in a deluge, exhausting themselves , and me, in one sustained torrent. In the end, I realized that the stories some artists have to tell are too powerful to take in, process, and pass on in an instant. My mind needed space and time to sort through everything and come to terms with it – an artist’s version of Post Traumatic Stress. I had seen too much, my senses assaulted by a master because Senor Goya has an ability to draw the viewer into the scene and experience its essence with all five senses.
Delay is not denial, as the world would have us believe. Delay can indeed bring us the very thing we seek, oftentimes so much more than we imagined possible. Delay causes contemplation for those willing to ponder, which always makes us better versions of ourselves should we choose to accept the teachings. Good things do indeed come to those who wait.