I am not, by nature a patient person.
I’ve often wondered if my impatience might be a reflection of my inner tempo – my mind, even under the best of circumstances, operates at a momentum that verges on manic, and any external reality that doesn’t match my internal velocity is cause for immediate distress.
It has taken me many many years, meditation, medication, and self discipline to be at a point in which I can settle myself into equanimity when I encounter the inevitable impediments of everyday life. Slow down, I remind myself. Don’t react with immediate frustration when something is taking longer that you think it should. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Being in quarantine, in many senses, has forced all of us to slow down. The simplest activities take longer; if your situation is anything like mine, you can’t just run over to the grocery store to grab a few items – a 5 minute errand has turned into a 20 minute wait in a socially distanced line to enter the store. Getting anywhere on public transportation requires more time because of diminished service on most routes. Everything moves at a different speed.
We’re all looking for silver linings as the world continues to hurtle into a new, unsettling normal. I have to override my tendency towards pessimism, but I look for them, every day.
And today, I found myself in a situation that would test the patience of a saint – I helped my supremely tech-unsavvy, septuagenarian mom set up her new iPad, via FaceTime, translating between English and Japanese. The fact that her eyesight is poor and she was trying to show me screens through her magnifying glass added to the challenge.
But nearly an hour later we completed the task together, and although it was an exercise in frustration at certain points, I realized that I was able to be calm enough to not respond to her with irritation. Instead, I was able to slow myself down to the pace that was comfortable to her, including the multiple repeated explanations. I was patient with her.
We learn things in unexpected ways.
Do you often find yourself impatient? And how does it manifest in the way you respond – frustration, disdain, anger, indifference?
My task today: put away a mound of folded laundry. For some reason, this is one of my least favorite tasks in the world. It makes me…impatient. It’s not done yet, but I’ll report back tomorrow!