I find out about patience by its absence. When I am impatient.
Impatience for me is about expectations, mine in particular. I often have an expectation about how something is “supposed to happen”. There may be a solid external basis for this, such as a schedule stating times of bus AB leaving this stop and arriving at that terminal. This is useful when going to the airport, where another schedule, that of flight 123, is guiding my decisions. Expectations may also be internal, how I like things to go, what feels “right” to me.
As it turns out, I’m pretty good with travel and letting go of expectations. Many aspects are clearly out of my control; weather, broken or missing planes, etc, etc, etc. I get into my travel mode that is a combination of “whatever” and “how it is now,” how will I respond–going for plan B, C, D.2.a, whatever the circumstances suggest. It’s a bit like the weather, where I may well have a preference, and it is what it is, so adjusting is my main option. We had a great example of this last summer, when BA and I were attempting a tightly scheduled trip, with a family wedding in Wisconsin followed by viewing the solar eclipse in Oregon. It didn’t quite go that way, as I wrote about in Eclipsed, plan crash.
It’s the seemingly small stuff that more often tries my patience. Little household events, projects, inefficiencies. Note that telltale word, inefficiency. For many routine and mundane tasks, such as laundry, I have a sense of the most efficient, meaning getting the most done in the least amount of time for a modest amount of effort, way to do the task. BA has her own approach to these tasks, and our approaches often don’t match. I’ll spare you the details, as it isn’t about airing the gripes, or making one person right. I’ll allow that my way is better for me, and not necessarily better for anyone else.
The challenge comes when I have started a project, say the Sunday morning laundry. BA may then come downstairs, note that the load in the washer is finishing and proceed from her point of view (we order things differently). I get impatient, as my sense of order is thwarted, and how I prefer to work with the finishing loads is affected. Now, this is laundry, it will all get done in a few hours, there is no particular rush, and it doesn’t matter. Let it go, Stephanie. Easier said than done.
Its interesting to note, this being Sunday morning, the laundry is happening as I write about patience. Being in a reflective mode makes it much easier for me to let go of my self-imposed sense of the “right” way to do things. My false sense of urgency dissipates more easily. Its that darn mindfulness thing again, being present to what actually is, rather than the story I might make up about what’s happening. So patience with the externals follows if I bring curiosity to my own internal state, including my impatience. Getting over impatience by being patient. I do love a good oxymoron.