Day 208 - Patience.
Ok, so this is something that I historically lack. I mean, a lot. Like wasn’t born with the patience gene. Making me wait is akin to asking me to cut off a limb...well, maybe that is overly dramatic. Perhaps it just feels that way.
So the whole of my life has been one long, enduring lesson in patience. Seems that I have spent my life waiting for things to change, to come, to stop, to hurry up. I can say honestly that I have spent a great deal of time wishing that things were different.
So it is by no accident that I am tapped into the collective impatience right now...I feel it everywhere I go (which is not a lot of places). I see it all over social media. Everyone is tired of being at home and wants to return to normal life. Everyone is tired of the pandemic and our collective brush with death. I feel like since we took corrective measures early, especially in my little hamlet, that there is an increasing impatience of everyone to return to life as we knew it before. However, the life we knew before is gone...long gone.
I feel (and I am somewhat ashamed to admit this) like since we didn’t have the death toll that some places did that there is push to hurry up and get back to it. I feel it too. It isn’t those other people that I am sitting in bemused judgment about. I feel it and think it too. Kind of a “well that was some nice down time...now stop this nonsense and let’s get back to living.” I am totally in touch with that sentiment.
That is my go to as an incredibly impatient person.
HURRY THE FUCK UP AND LET ME GO BACK TO THE WAY I DID THINGS BEFORE!
But what I have learned over the years of being incredibly impatient it that there is value in waiting. I can’t tell you how many times I have been compelled to act and then some thought, feeling or other action has stepped in the way of my knee jerk need to react and that has truly stopped a literal disaster from happening. Waiting is a skill that I have developed over time, time that I felt was really being tested and wasted at the time.
However, I began some time ago to see the world differently. I was able to look at traffic jams as universal confirmation that I was not supposed to be in the accident that caused the jam...just the aftermath of that accident. I realized that sitting in my car, unharmed, delayed was the best possible outcome I could expect of that particular moment. Here I was, safe, in my car, on my way wherever I was headed, now waylaid but in tact, safe and in a place where I would eventually arrive where I was supposed to. Having the above thoughts contemporaneously to the experience was a real game changer in my ongoing difficult relationship with patience.
I began to see that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in the moment. I was not supposed to be out of the traffic jam which kinda sucked. But I was also not supposed to be in the accident. And that didn’t suck at all. Given the two options, I was totally 100% ok with my lot in the situation. And my perception of my reality was altered...forever.
So as the Pandemic of 2020 begins to become somewhat under control (writing that I am not sure that is even true but it is the collective groupthink for sure) we all are being given circumstances designed to trigger our issues with waiting.
So like the accident metaphor, I am choosing to focus on this: the fact that I stayed home and didn’t go really anywhere or see anyone was the reason that I didn’t get sick. I took measures to ensure my own safety so I (at least so far) have been spared. I am where I am supposed to be. At home. Isolating. Even though it seems that the worst of it has passed.
For me the traffic accident metaphor provides an additional metaphor...isn’t there always someone who is stuck in a traffic jam whose impatience and intolerance causes them to drive on the shoulder or across the median? Have you ever seen them get nailed and cause another accident because they just couldn’t sit and wait one more second? I have...many times.
For me that is where we are. We are all sitting on the highway of life, in our vehicles, waiting for the accident to clear. We all have other places we would rather be. We all have lives we want to live that doesn’t involve sitting in a traffic jam. However, perhaps an early and hasty exit from the traffic clusterfuck is going to put us out of this particular inconvenience and land us squarely in front of a mac truck...creating our own now more exciting and painful reality.
For me, that is where we are in this health crisis. We are being asked to wait while the first responders and essential people clear the wreckage from our collective paths. We are just being asked to wait. That is all. Just awhile longer...please.
It occurs to me that waiting has served me and my family well during the last six weeks. Waiting has allowed me to not fire half my firm. Waiting has allowed for new solutions to appear that were inconceivable moments before their arrival. Waiting has allowed me not to become ill. Waiting has allowed for those I love not not become ill either. Waiting has given me a long and restful period at home. Waiting has given me a lot of work to do on my relationship with patience.
Of course, I like everyone else, want to go back to Sundays at the beach. My actual office where I am not working all the fucking time no matter what time of day it is. I want to put on actual clothes that do not have an elastic waistband and makeup...I want to see live music and have a meal in a restaurant with friends. I want to shake hands with new people I meet. I want to hug again. I want to not feel like I am getting ready to rob the grocery store as I don my mask in the parking lot. I want to move back into a life where people and others are part of my everyday. But I can wait.
I have strengthened my waiting muscle over the years which helped immeasurably in this crisis. It has helped me see that the crisis is not over use because I am not affected. As a child I learned object permanence - the idea that just because something falls from view, doesn’t mean that it stops existing. Just because the virus hasn’t ransacked your life or your town or your world doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist and the threat is gone. It just means that you are lucky and blessed.
So I am ok, staying home. The new life that is now our reality will come for us and remove us from our homes. Place us back on life’s fast track. It will begin again and anew. For now, I can just flex my waiting muscles and enjoy my current reality and routine. I, for one, am ok with sitting in the traffic jam being inconvenienced and waylaid especially since the traffic jam is really my home with my kid and pets that I love. I am not really being asked to give up all that much...really.
However, I also want to say that I see that this is not everyone’s reality. There are people stuck at home without income. Without jobs to return to. Businesses that are gone. Again, this makes me grateful. I can do my part. Let these people return to the world while I stay home because I can. The less people out there interacting the safer we all are. Me being willing to stay put is how I can keep the environment safer for those people who really need to get moving again. They need to find new jobs or return to their old ones. For me, I am working from home and it is all fine. I am fine.
Patience can sometimes make hard terms for those that seek it. But like anything else, the more I practice it, the more flexibility and strength becomes part of it. Safer at home is really just patience in practice. I am going to be patient with my impatience...since I have gotten so good at it.
One more thing...today is my Tribal Beauty Nicole's 50th Birthday! Happy Birthday Peaches! I love you and will celebrate the hell out of you as soon as this is all over!