The Concentrated Strength of Patience
“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
As a child walking to school, I irritated my fellow walkers with my quick pace and stubborn refusal to walk at a normal speed. As a young adult I could barely contain my displeasure with slow walkers, slow talkers, slow-moving cashiers, hesitant drivers, etc. Wherever I went, I was surround by the slow-moving masses who were impeding my progress.
My mild-mannered grandmother was prone to smile at me and say just one word, “patience.” That usually resulted in an impatient sigh from me. Some learn patience as part of the natural process of maturation. Others have lessons in patience forced on them by life circumstances. For me that circumstance is multiple sclerosis (MS).
It makes me smile now, to think how annoyed I used to be with the slow-movers of the world. Perhaps it is karma at work that I have joined their ranks.
There are always more chores, more errands, more reasons to rush through our days. We are multi-tasking to such an extent that we often neglect the present moment.
Shopping while texting. Driving while phoning. Watching a movie while playing a game on a hand-held. Networking online while visiting with actual living human beings. The impulse is to move on at the expense of the here and now.
I take a more relaxed view of life these days. I take time to see the people around me — really see them. I notice the scenery and appreciate my surroundings. I am in the moment rather than thinking about my next chore, or trying to accomplish two or three tasks at the same time while giving my full attention to none of them.
So much can escape our notice in the daily flurry of activity. Many of our fondest memories come from those moments we least expected… if we are willing to pay attention and alter our pace to fit the moment, not the other way around.
Marc Lesser, author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less, writes that 50 percent of Americans say they are busier this year than last; and only 20 percent of U.S. families say they have regular sit-down dinner with their families, as opposed to 60 percent 20 years ago.
Do those statistics have anything to do with patience? It is more likely a mix of many factors, but patience is most certainly one part of the equation. We’re moving in the wrong direction.
There is something to be said for slowing down. It takes practice to recognize what things we can let go, and what moments we should savor. With patience comes an awareness and appreciation of life as it unfolds.
Patience is an acquired skill, one I have not fully mastered, but I am grateful to be on the journey.
Read Mr. Lesser’s thought-provoking article and ask yourself the question: What If You Had More Time?
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo
Image from PhotoXpress.com