In Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle, he tells of John Marcher’s conviction that an extraordinary event will occur in his life. Where and when this event will take place, he has no inkling, but only that it will one day certainly take place.7
Because the notion is so grand, he keeps the promised event only to himself, that is, until one day he is captivated by the beautiful and delicate May Bartram. Something about her causes him to reveal his innermost secrets. May promises to tell no one.
As the story unfolds, John and May begin spending time with one another. They attend operas, visit art museums, and share together in the routine tasks of life. Seeing each another daily, and doing everything together, they become inextricably linked.
May loves John, but his fervor for an unknown event is so profound that he misses her love and continues waiting for that luminous day to be revealed. May loves him so much that she spends her life waiting and watching, with John, for some momentous event to transpire. They watch and wait, and nothing. They wait more, still nothing. They grow old watching and waiting.
May’s health then begins to deteriorate. She dies never having her love reciprocated!
For all those years, exceedingly infatuated and looking, he missed the very thing he was waiting for. The great event was already with him and he didn’t see it. It was missing May’s great love that doomed and trapped him to become the “Beast in the Jungle.” Henry James wrote, “The escape would have been to love May Bartram; then, he would have lived.” He overlooked the very thing he was looking for. He didn’t see through the blurry shadows of joy.
It didn’t fall from the sky or arrive in miraculous splendor; it was there always with him, every day, loving and loyal to him, but his eyes were blind. John Marcher didn’t have to look far to find what he was waiting for.
“The worst thing that can happen is to encounter happiness and not recognize it. To wait for a miraculous event in the hope that it will someday redeem us and fail to see that the miracle resides in what we are already experiencing.” 8 John Marcher spent his whole life waiting for the great thing he already had: love!
What are you waiting for?