Patience

From the dictionary: patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Over the years, countless people have advised me that I need to be “more patient.”

I would often roll my eyes at others’ (often unsolicited) guidance. The story in my head would often cynically go something like this: Why should I be more patient? Why do I need to slow down? This sounds like an excuse for moving slowly? This sounds like bs.

In hindsight, the reality was that I was being textbook impatient. I was reacting angrily to a delay.

I was externalizing my emotions and expressing my frustration vocally (even without talking, I would often react with my body language)—to what end though? For what purpose? Why was I doing this? How was this effective?

Even not saying anything, I find myself exhibiting impatience in small ways all the time. I zone out of conversations. I interrupt people. I switch tabs. This is perhaps fine when I am by myself, but when I am dealing with other people—THEY SEEM TO NOTICE.

The reality, at least my reality that I have witnessed over and over, is that REACTING to the external world in real-time is _not_ particularly effective, ESPECIALLY when dealing with the interpersonal realm.

And it—the effectiveness—rarely has to do with the content of your words. It far more often is about the HOW YOU SAY THINGS. The tone. The speed. The delivery. The pitch. The HOW greatly impacts HOW people interpret your communication. (Whether I _like_ this is is perhaps a different story but I think it is reasonable to ACCEPT REALITY regardless of my opinion about it).

For so long, I have thought about patience in the long-term context. “Work hard for five years, maybe ten years and only then will you see an outcome.” This may be true, too, but applying patience to the short-term—to the MOMENT is what has actually made a material difference for my effectiveness.

Patience is perhaps not even the right word for this. Maybe it is presence or something about living in the now.

Patience has a certain impatience built into it. In Zen the word is “constancy.” Instead of patience, constancy is a kind of dedication to what you love and what you care about, and with that dedication comes a trust that by planting beautiful seeds, eventually in their own time they will bear fruit.

It is a commitment to the now. To the breath. To the moment.

That is my challenge. Not showing my heart and brain on my sleeve but rather LEADING WITH CURIOSITY so I can get through the moment and then return to my own inner voice.

Can you get through this conversation while being present? Can you harness your brain? Your monkey mind? Do you need a leash? Can you just breath? Can you breath through this moment? Can you focus on the words?

These concepts are not particularly HARD to read about, but they are challenging to implement. Every religion talks about patience and acceptance in one form or another. Taming the monkey mind is the pursuit of a lifetime. There is no RIGHT way to go about doing it. And the journey is very likely not a linear path. So you may find yourself EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED in a moment and ask yourself—ugh, am I getting closer to reaching PATIENT STATE (NIRVANA, MECCA, ETC.).

And the answer…

The answer the wisest of wise may give you…

“Be patient.”

Or

“Breathe.”

Those answers _always_ used to piss me off (and I would be lying if I was saying they didn’t still frustrate me at least in some capacity). But in the answers lie a test of their own—can you deal with ambiguity and not have it FORCE YOU TO REACT. Because the reality, the reality you have to accept because you are not in charge of the world, is that THE WORLD IS NOT STIMULUS.

You get to decide.

In the moment.

Right now.

What do you choose? And how will you react?

This is the art that I am going to work on over the next few months. Just taking in the present. Telling my brain to slow down.

There’s some challenge because when you tell your brain to be patient, you often find yourself speeding up (the exact opposite of your intention). So then how do you do it? What do you focus on?

What it comes down to for me is finding a way to be present in the moment WITHOUT needing to exert my worldview into the space. I find, so often, I feel a compulsion to WANT TO BE HEARD. TO WANT TO CONTRIBUTE. TO WANT TO CONTROL THE WOLRD AROUND ME.

But, again, for WHAT?

Why not listen and then react 30 minutes later? Or 3 hours later? Or never? Ooh the last one is a good one. Or never? What would be so bad about not reacting to a topic? What is the worst case scenario? Why not take things in and just let them fill up your body? Let them marinate and perhaps they die there.

Letting go is another way to phrase this. I have always exhibited frustration when people told me to let go. But the reality is that letting go is perhaps the right advice. Let go of it all. Let go of the need to be in charge.

You can still have your opinions. Your instincts. Your reactions. But hold them in time and space as IMPERMANENT THINGS. IMPERMANENT things that may never be experienced by anyone else in the galaxy. Scary thought – for some – but a true thought nonetheless. Let go of the desire to control and accept the ambiguity of life.

That is the journey I am on.

My hypothesis—a bit naive and hopelessly romantic—is that doing this will help me get to the next level of life (NOTE THIS DOES NOT IMPLY THERE ARE LEVELS TO LIFE, ESPECIALLY NOT LINEAR LEVELS). I think this update to my posture and demeanor will have a major impact on how I perceive and appreciate the world.

To be determined. TBD.


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