Peace is in Patience
I think “patience” is an underrated, yet very valuable quality to have. Patience means being able to tolerate long periods of things not looking like they are progressing, or are like they are even getting worse, in order to get to a better place. It helps us withstand change. I feel this need for patience during the creative process and currently with a major house renovation. Patience helps me feel calmer about the giant pile of dirt in the front of our house.
In a humorous and insightful Ted Talk by Oliver Burkeman, he says that a lack of patience means “needing to make the world move faster than it actually does”. In today’s society we are being trained to expect instant gratification. We can purchase anything with the click of a mouse and then it may be delivered the next day. If we text our friend we may receive an immediate response. These conveniences may be teaching us to have unrealistic and even ridiculous expectations of how fast things should happen. Everyone should just chill out.
I remember (back in the 1970s) when my mom taught my sister and I how to fish. It was on the shore of Maple Lake while my dad was out in the canoe. She demonstrated how to cast our lines into the water, with a squirming worm on the hook and then very silently stand there, so as not to scare anything away and stare at our floating red bobbers waiting for them to dunk out of sight, at which point we would reel our lines in as fast as possible in the hopes of successfully bringing in a trout. It felt like we stood there forever; squinting in the sun, smelling mint and mud and swatting away flies. I don’t remember catching anything and in retrospect it seemed more like a clever ploy by my mom to keep us quiet and occupied. But I do remember that feeling of expectation that something unknown and awesome might happen as long as we were able to stay focused and silently wait.
Patience is uncomfortable yet rewarding. Practising patience helps us coexist with people who are different than us as we stop and listen instead of rushing in to defend our positions. It is essential for being a parent or having a pet. We needed it to survive the COVID pandemic! With patience we may have less anxiety, less conflict, more understanding and insights, make fewer bad decisions and have less uncompleted projects – that all sounds worth having patience for!
I thought of patience when looking at Des Kennedy’s garden at the Denman Island Home and Garden Tour in June. The Kennedys purchased the ten acres of forest and stumps in 1972. Now it is a huge elaborate garden with pathways and ponds. They got most of their, now very mature plants from cuttings from friends and the buildings were made from trees on the property. The house cost five thousand dollars to build. Talk about the eventual rewards of having patience!
I think patience is a skill that can be strengthened over time and maybe some people naturally have more or less. There are many ways we can test our patience and practise being less annoyed with waiting. We could watch a moonrise or sunset from beginning to end, undertake a big project in small steps, offer to watch a friend’s toddler, save money for a purchase or go fishing! Eventually this skill may transfer to other things you do, like a challenging creative activity. Also, being able to leave something and take a break is actually proven to make people more productive than being impatient to get finished. Act like you have all the time in the world, resist the temptation of speed and you may reap a reward – even if it is just a bit more peace.