A Plethora of P’s / #7: “Patience”

February 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

Time. The great illusionist. Ticks slowly when we want something to happen; the fast-forward button gets pressed when we’ve got someplace to be.

Time seems to move faster and faster; like it’s in a race. (The great rat-race?) The world’s in such a hurry.

I grew up hearing that “Patience is a virtue”, and I think that’s true. But it’s more than a display of fine character. Exercising patience allows things to unfold more gracefully, in their own right time. And it’s a challenge!

Patience is about what we can tolerate before blowing a personal fuse. It tests us in many forms ~ patience towards self, patience towards others, towards listening, towards learning, towards a menial task, towards traffic jams, towards time …  Wouldn’t it feel good if we could toss the accompanying irritation out the window? Have it vanish in thin air and just “go with the flow”? Easier said than done ~ but possible, if we re-calibrate our thoughts.

We come into this world packaged with personality intact, “strengths and weaknesses” already flowing through our veins, inborn traits determining whether we have more or less of this or that characteristic.

That doesn’t mean, though, that someone born with an impatient nature can’t develop greater degrees of patience ~ not necessarily reaching levels of saintliness, but we are ever-growing, learning, changing beings who can and do evolve and enhance our existence by stretching, expanding and nurturing the various aspects of our inherent nature. Patience is one well worth the effort. Think about it …

Feeling impatient can be such a maddening, aggravating, blood-pressure-rising experience, the solution might seem to be to hurry through it, be done with it. But we all know that doesn’t work …  it doesn’t make the traffic light turn green, it doesn’t make the baby stop crying, it doesn’t make the pot boil, it doesn’t make the flower grow, it doesn’t erase a mistake you might have made; it only lets you experience impatience.

So maybe we can’t make grapes ripen faster on the vine… and if we harvest them too soon, we end up with sour grapes. (And I’m pretty sure that creating sour grapes isn’t on anyone’s bucket list.)

But we can, instead, think patient anticipation. We can shift our focus to eagerness. Patience then is not a passive burden but steps that light up the path.

A wonderful thing happens when you take a few deep breaths and mindfully infuse patience: resistance backs off.  You can be present. You can even begin to enjoy and participate in the unfolding.

Maybe we should heed the line from the old Simon & Garfunkel song, “slow down, you move too fast,  you got to make the morning last …”. Because when we don’t, we don’t feel so “groovy”.

The river doesn’t ask “are we there yet?”. Like the river, we’ll all get where we’re going.


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