On Patience (NOT a New Year’s Post)

by P. Braithwaite

Happy New Year!! I don’t know about you all, but I couldn’t wait for this holiday season to be over. I took down my tree on New Year’s Eve, and I’m already looking forward to spring. I’ll spare you the obligatory New Year’s post because I’m just not into it. I’m ready to move on. I leave for Miami in about two weeks and I’m already there in my head.

Which brings me to today’s post: I am not a very patient person.

I have a lot of redeeming qualities, but patience isn’t one of them. Luckily, understanding is. People think I am patient because, when they FINALLY do what I’ve asked…I can understand their frustrations and delays. I think I make up for my impatience with understanding. At least I hope so. I like for things to be done on my time, I love to be in control, I don’t love dwelling on things that are outside of my control, and (although I am very indecisive) I do not handle ambivalence well; I like to know things. And once I know things, I like for these things that I know to immediately come to pass. And I prefer they come to fruition exactly way I expect them to.

Otherwise I get upset.
And I get frustrated.
And I throw quiet lady tantrums in my bedroom when no one is looking.

I assure you my impatience isn’t pretty.

Here’s the thing, though: Life doesn’t always unfold in perfect harmony with my desires. I really wish it did; however, other people don’t work on my schedule and life continues to tick by despite my best efforts to the contrary. And so, out of necessity, I must learn to cultivate patience.

I have been afraid to pray for patience because I am acutely aware that patience will require more distance between what I expect and where I am right now. Yet, here I am deepening my relationship to it.

Here’s what I’ve learned about patience, thus far:

Impatience comes from a lack of faith:
I’ve noticed that I am far more tolerant of time when I KNOW something is going to happen. There may be some eagerness and a splash of enthusiasm, but overall, when my faith is sky high, I am calmly waiting for whatever it is I desire. When I don’t have any faith that what I desire will show up, then I get impatient. I need to increase my faith to increase my patience. I must also have faith that even if what I desire doesn’t arrive…everything is unfolding for my highest good.

Patience only exists where there is a level of non-attachment:
Non-attachment is one of those phrases that is easier uttered than lived. It’s the process by which we leave space for God/the universe to come in and work her magic. When you have a certain level of non-attachment you can relinquish the need to FORCE things, to make things happen, or to “choke the baby.” Much like having faith, non-attachment allows you to trust in the rhythm and flow of things unseen.

Technology is killing our patience:
I remember when my dad let me download Napster — you remember Napster? It was the first file sharing program for mainstream use, and it changed my life. Prior to Napster, I had to sit in front of my radio all day with my hand hovering over my tape deck — ready to push play when Usher or DMX finally came on the radio. Napster changed all of that. If I wanted to hear a song, I could download it within a few minutes — now it’s a few seconds. So much of what we desire is accessible at the speed of light, and I think we forget that life has its own technology that unfolds in perfect time. The other day I was meditating on the center of my heart and I saw a vast forest covered in snow. I thought it meant that I was a cold-hearted bitch, but then I realized that there are cycles and rhythms to life (and my heart). We cannot rush springtime and we can’t live in perpetual summer…there is much to be gained from the deceptively dormant winter.

You are more patient than you think:
It’s true, you know. no matter how much I resist, so much of life is beyond my control, and so the cool thing about patience is — since you can’t change the present — you are forced to be patient. It’s like being stuck in an elevator with a smelly guy. There’s no place else to go and nothing left to do — you’ve just gotta wait and keep breathing.

How do you all maintain patience?