Monday, May 25, 2009



...and today I am also thinking about how the work of patience seems to be idiosyncratic to each particular situation in which it is required.

In one kind of situation, the struggle is about how to deal with excess energy whose time for discharge has not yet arrived--not unlike the plight of wiggly children during "break" at the swimming pool, waiting for the lifeguard to blow the whistle and allow them back into the water. The inversion of this, also requiring patience, is when you need to endure longer than you think you can.

In another kind of situation, the struggle might be more about how to bear deprivation, or suspense, uncertainty, or pain--the difficulties of wanting what you don't have, or somehow learning to treat with dignity and respect what you have but don't want, such as unpleasant circumstances in your neighborhood or at work, or a physical or emotional disability.

I'm suspecting that it can be helpful to think about the struggle of patience not generically, but instead, precisely, with attention and presence, and with a love for nuance, the way a painter thinks about each distinct brush stroke as the composition develops.

I am hugely impatient, but if I can learn to think about patience as an art, I might enter into awe at the work, rather than resisting it as I so often do!


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