Preludes to now

genetic fractals - table lamp lt

genetic fractals: table and lamp (more info below)

I’m waiting to meet a couple of management consultants at Geneva airport. That leaves me a few minutes to write and escape the wait. ‘Waiting’ is a loaded state, it triggers random scenes from the past. One moment I’m thumbing my old blackberry and the next moment I am at a bus shelter in Indonesia, sitting on the floor, leaning against my backpack. Dulled by the humid heat, I hang back, I stare at the ceiling and watch geckos catch small insects. How can they run upside down? I’ve been here 6 hours now but that’s OK. After a couple of hours I lost my restlessness and settled into a quiet eternal state. I can wait forever.

The consultants are late, or rather, their flight is late. It doesn’t matter, we will do what we have to do in less time. Time is perhaps the most malleable dimension we have.

Waiting is a big part of my life. First I waited a long time to be born but my mother reckoned it was only 9 months. Was it? Surely the ‘I’ that I appropriated on seeing the first light didn’t just come into being? Or perhaps it did. Not that it matters, I wasn’t conscious of that wait and that wasn’t unpleasant. I’m told death is like that; a long break that we are not conscious of. If so, then it can’t be all that unpleasant to be dead.

Still waiting. I remember waiting for mail, the old fashioned type. Sitting by the window waiting for the postman to arrive. Is he stopping? Yes. Does he have a handwritten envelope? Yes… I think so. Did she finally write to me? Or is it an envelope with a Philips logo? Did I get an interview!? Waiting. Waiting for destiny to unfold. Why do we wait? Sitting by the window full of expectation doesn’t change what happens. But if you sit long enough, you develop religious traits. Tired of waiting, we hope that some non-physical power may be persuaded by our deep desires, intentions and prayers to intervene and quickly write a letter, slip in the mailbag as the postman rounds the corner. 

I tried that.

“Please God, let that be a letter of Sylvie.”

There is no God and it turned out that she wasn’t really interested in me but in my best friend.

I’ve waited at airports for delayed flights. Some are worse than others but none of them are really that good for waiting. At least at a bus station in Indonesia you can study geckos or talk to a local guy who’s been admiring your worn hiking boots.

“Do you want drugs?”, he asks. Small talk.

“No, I’m waiting”.

“You want a girl?”


“A boy?”

No, thanks buddy, Sylvie was enough for a while. She took up my invitation to join me and some friends to stay in a ski chalet we had rented for the season. She picked up a guy in a bar on the first night and offered me the loneliest weekend of my life. I should have turned her out or left myself. Screw her, and all that. I didn’t.


I waited to graduate, I waited to get a job. Then I waited to go travelling. Waited to find a proper girlfriend. Waiting for life? No.

Waiting for death.

The big wait.

OK, that wasn’t true. I didn’t wait for all those things. I stopped waiting after Sylvie. Slowly I learned that what I am waiting for will either never happen, or it is happening right now.

So now I go for now. Since midlife, even more now than ever. Big nows: NOW!

“Sorry we kept you waiting”.

I look up. Two huge germans tower over me. Germans in Indonesia?

Then I realise and I smile.

The objects in the scene above are generated using a genetic fractal algorithm. Genetic Fractals are fractals made up from simple components suchs as sticks, spheres or from  more complex components that could be entire subsystems. The genetic code determines what the object is and what it does The table for example has the following code.

//07062013.1 tb1a1 1 1 0.5 -0.25 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.85 4 0 [1] 1 0 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.25 0.0 0.95 4 3 [2] 2 0 1.0 -0.25 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 2 3 [3] 3 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1 3 [999]

Genetic manipulation of this code would completely change the object. It might grow extra legs, change material, or become a different thing altogether.


8 thoughts on “Preludes to now

  1. Beautifully written, Genetic Fractals.
    If I may pick up on one senctence: “Slowly I learned that what I am waiting for will either never happen, or it is happening right now.”
    That made me think. And I find that maybe waiting is a way to studiously ignore what’s happening now. It might just be that I’m getting older, but life seems to creep up to me more and more.

    1. Thanks Lively Sceptic. I agree with you. Waiting definitely obscures the moment and it may well be intentional. Oddly enough, I now use waiting as an opportunity to access the moment. We are a weird species. My cat seems to have known this all along 🙂

  2. It’s funny: Next to me sits a graduation card saying, “Life is an adventure WAITING to happen.” I think you have a point about waiting. It seems to be a fundamental component of experience. I couldn’t imagine my life without waiting, even if I tried to be my most productive every second of the day.

    Maybe an important question about waiting is what we do while we wait. Would our lives be better if we passively learned while we waited? If not, how can we make sure our waiting time is spent wisely?

    Sorry if I ran off-topic from your post. It just made me think about waiting in general and these are my thoughts for now.

    Again- very well-written post!

    1. Thanks Chimp – something tells me you are not waiting for life to happen…! “what do we do while we wait’ – LivelySceptic made an interesting comment and you can probably tell a lot about yourself when you answer that question. You learn, others avoid the unavoidable. Some meditate and zen adepts simply “are”. You have given me an idea for observing people. Thanks!

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