With one month of the New Year already faded away, I have adopted my word for 2018. Some of you may remember One Word articles that ran in Bella a couple of years ago. Instead of New Year’s resolutions that are easily broken, the One Word program offers an alternative: choosing one word to apply to every area of our lives. In the past, I have chosen Lighten – twice! This year my word is Patience.
I become way too flustered when things don’t go my way … instantly! Maybe it’s a “men-are-from- Mars, women-from-Venus” thing, but this behavior is not typical of Rob. My husband is the Soul of Patience. At times, when things go awry – especially with computer or smartphone issues – he helps me understand the problem, and find the cause in his slow, deliberate manner. He proceeds to show me what I’ve done wrong and how my hissy fit could have been avoided. The truth is I really don’t want to know what I’m doing wrong. I just want those things to work properly for me the first time. And if they don’t, I want him to fix them. Fast! It’s not that I don’t appreciate the virtue of patience, it’s just that I appreciate it more in other people.
The Jigsaw Puzzle
Thinking about this jogs memories of trying to teach my sons various lessons when they were small. I became very frustrated when they:
A. didn’t catch on
B. ignored my explanations and went back to their own (wrong) way
C. showed no interest in my solution at all
Consider the time I showed my four-year-old son how to put together a jigsaw puzzle, turning over all the pieces, finding the straight-edged pieces and putting them together to form the outline, grouping the same colors, and checking progress against the picture on the box cover. After my (seemingly) patient explanation, he went through A, B, and C above. Not only did he not catch on, he ignored my explanations and did it his [WRONG ] way. And when I pointed out it was the WRONG way, he lost interest. My mature response to this was to take both my hands and scramble the pieces in frantic gestures until they flew all over the room.
In my youth, I was totally impatient for the phone to ring for a date, for test scores to be posted, or for the delivery of the letter of acceptance to the college of my choice. As the years went by, I could name times in my life when I seemed – miraculously – infinitely patient. However, in hindsight, those were times when nothing I could have done would have speeded up the process: pregnancy, building a house, waiting for car repairs in a garage on a road trip. I doubt I had learned patience; I had just learned where not to waste my energy.
The Mystery of It All
It’s still a mystery to me why some people are blessed with patience and others aren’t. Is there a patience gene? Is there a Patience Anonymous self-help group where you can scream and yell about how unfair it is that life’s problems aren’t resolved faster? Is there a DIY book for those who can’t wait? Is it true that redheads are just naturally hotheads? (Read impatient.)
Still, I believe patience can be cultivated. I have learned the rhythms of publishing a magazine and
can roll with the ups and downs of deadlines, even when they’re not met. When I force myself to be quiet and listen to Rob’s counsel in the matter of All Things Techy or why that blinkety-blank thing won’t behave like it did yesterday, I actually learn something. (I will confess to a gross level of impatience in actually reaching that point, however.) When I take the time to meditate, my whole life slows down and I am in greater command of all my emotions.
As I invite patience into my life, there’s a familiar prayer that should be restored to my bedtime petitions: Lord, grant me patience. And please, grant it to me NOW.
Kathy Huff Cunningham