For about 10 years I wore a silver bracelet with the word patience imprinted on it. My three boys were young; never had I needed so much of that particular virtue. When they’d drive me nuts, I would rub my index finger across the word, hoping for inspiration. Sometimes, breathing deeply, reminding myself to let it go, let it go, just let it go, I’d find a little. But it never seemed to be enough. Unmotherly thoughts like “you little shit” would pop to the surface. Of course I’d only mumble that under my breath. One wouldn’t want one of the little shits to get a complex.
Well, the kids are grown now, and I don’t know what I did with that bracelet. But as 2015 gets rolling and I see people choosing one word to focus on this year, I find myself choosing the word patience. There aren’t any boistrous little boys around to break my nice glass candle holder or lose their new jacket or put their head through the drywall, but I’m still in need of that word as much as I ever was. You see, I live fast. I don’t mean I’m out every day and night making things happen. I mean I move fast, speak fast, eat fast. I jump to conclusions, make snap judgements, lose my temper. I interrupt when people are speaking, just dying to make my point. I drop things, spill things, knock things over, arms wildly moving as I talk. I’m impatient.
So what does it mean to choose one word? I think for me it means that knowledge is power. If that word bubbles up in my conciousness, maybe I can do a better job of acting on it. Maybe I can remember to try to be patient when another person is speaking. Maybe I can wait to jump in with an opinion. Maybe I can take a deep breath before I get mad at my poor, beleaguered husband.
It takes patience to live in the present I think. And what about tolerance of others different than we are? That might be an actual definition of patience. You have to be patient to do a good job as a caregiver or a spouse or a parent, obviously. But what about ourselves? I have a feeling it applies there as well, and that might be the greatest challenge for someone going at warp speed like me. How to be patient with my own impatient self? I suspect the secret can be found where it always dwells: in loving kindness.