The Meaning of Patience

Since I’m doing this whole exploration of patience, I figured I should know the definition. So I looked it up (as you would expect). Frankly, I don’t know that it captures what I am seeking when I seek patience.

A path in the woods, surrounded by trees, ivy, and other lush green plants.

pa·tience /ˈpāSHəns/noun

  1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  2. any of various forms of card game for one player, the object of which is to use up all one’s cards by forming particular arrangements and sequences; solitaire. (chiefly used in Britain) [I definitely mean only this when I seek patience.]

I don’t think that definition is wrong; I just think it is too limited. It seems to assume that this capacity applies to all delays, troubles, and sufferings. But there are delays, troubles, and sufferings that should piss you off or upset you. I’m not going to trot out a parade of horribles here, but I’m sure we all can think of something (big or small) that deserves those responses. Getting angry at delay, trouble, and suffering helped (and helps) me identify the personal relationships I have that are unbalanced or even abusive. Anger is information. Anger can get shit done that needs to be done (h/t Mr. Nancy).

The patience I want is some of this definition. I don’t want to get frustrated waiting in line or one the phone with customer service. And I’ve had a decent amount of success teaching myself this kind of patience. But what I really want is something deeper. A flow in life. A lack of rush. A trust that there is time for the things I crave to do. Patience with myself.

How do you do that? How do you build an internal patience? If I could do that, oh what a life this could be!


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Considering Patience

I am not a patient person. Perhaps not the most impatient (although saying that makes my competitive brain wake the fuck up and say “We’ll see about that!”), but I do not like to wait. I suppose people could see this as a result of growing up and living in a Now! Now! Now! culture, where that Now! has become faster and faster to the point that the space between one Now! and the next has essentially disappeared. Sure. That’s part of it, but not all of it. Some of it is just me.

Spring blooms on a morning walk

And now we are here. All of us experiencing varying levels of stay at home and physical distancing and face covering. Going to the grocery store is a marathon of stress management. Packages are taking longer, and when we get them, sit for days, hoping that the pathogens wither and die before we open then. Washing and washing and washing again our hands. We are being forced to slow down, to be patient.

This is difficult for me. I started stay at home before my office and LA itself mandated it. (I read a lot of dystopian novels and am privileged to have a job that already allowed work from home.) Since then, I have been dealing with personal tragedies that have taken up so much space in my life that I haven’t experienced the slowing and stretching of time without an end in sight the way others have. The impact of these tragedies have waned, and now I find myself there, craving this whole thing to end.

I am alert for any signposts that this is working, that we have turned a corner. The curve seems to be flattening as the stay-at-home order extends to mid-May here in LA. I need something to do to distract that craving. Something bound by this crisis, of it and in it.

So, I am going to explore patience. I don’t know what this exploration will entail or how it will manifest. I will simply give it a portion of this slow and stretchy time, and share what I find there. Care to join me?


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The End In the Middle Of It All

When you get to the end in the middle of it all and there is still more, so much more, but it’ll be over soon, but you are so tired and you’ll regret this break tomorrow and the next day and over the weekend when you’re trying to get everything back running but right now. right now. you just need to stop.

You push. Look for something simple, something easy. That thing you can do to check just one thing off the CVS receipt of your to-do list. Do that and then break. Do that first though. Do that first.

But. I don’t want to.

The Worreativity Stone

The stone found me in Greece.

Slipped in a pocket; ported over borders and borders and oceans and lands

Four smooth grooves

(Or two depending on who’s counting)

Perfect for the shape of my stubby thumb

Cupped neatly in the valley of my palms

Taking on the wear and tear that would rip me apart

Becoming

Divinity

like diamonds

The Rush of a Quiet Storm

The hill tips over a points it’s way down through a jungle of lights and cars and shadowed pedestrians. On the days when it’s perfect, after the rush of the hours at work after the rush of the cars driving home, when the rush is the blur of the lights that stay green.

Down the slope and sweep juuust to the left and the earth tips down again and pulls you into her heart.

You could ride the momentum down and up again but this way, this way creates a storm in your ears and everything falls away as everything pulls to the present and it is you and the road and the risk and the blood in your veins and the beat of your heart.

The earth tips up again.

You whisper thanks to your guardian angel as you pump her pedals over the crest of the hill and past the tent city with flags crying for Argentina and through the light at the top as it turns to yellow.

What Would You Do If

There’s that old question that is supposed to help you get at what it is in life you really want to be doing. You know the one: What would you do if money were not a problem? There’s a variation on it where success is guaranteed.

A few years ago, I came across another question: What would you do even if you knew you would never succeed? This was a good one for me. My mind tried to reject it and persisted in resisting it. Why do anything if you can’t be successful at it?

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Hello again

Hello! You’re still here! I hope you haven’t been waiting around for me for… Yeah. Three years. Or at least maybe you went out and had a coffee or something between posts.

A few lifetimes have happened since I’ve been away! I gotten a JD, got barred (almost a year now!), traveled through/to seven or eight (nine?) different countries, started writing fiction, became an aunt again, and again, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something important on this list.

I’m back and ready to see what this space can become.

So… hello! Shall we go on an adventure?

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