“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” ~Edmund Burke.
I freely admit to being a very impatient person. If given a choice, I will take the stairs instead of the elevator because of impatience, not for the health benefits. I realize I am not alone in this. Pregnancy is one of those lessons for the impatient. Towards the end you no longer care whether the baby is ready to come out, you just want the pregnancy over. Our roads are full of those who are in a crazy rush to get where they are going. You see them bobbing and weaving to get ahead, then you sit beside them at the next traffic light.
We miss out on many important lessons when we race through the necessary steps that are there for a reason. We also end up wishing our lives away. I have worked with so many nurses who ‘can’t wait for the shift to be over.’ So many people who are ‘counting the days till the next vacation.’ When our kids are little we are eager for them to be more independent, less demanding of our time.
We run the risk of racing through life, not appreciating the beauty of the here and now, arriving at our own graveside wondering where the time went. When we look back, will we suddenly recognize how many missed opportunities we ignored, how many relationships we sacrificed in our desire to be somewhere or someone else?
Each time we get news of tragedy, of mass killings in a faraway mall, we are given the chance to stop and value our own life. When we hear that a friend (who is our own age) has passed away, we owe it to them to reevaluate and recalibrate our own priorities. Are we making the most of our sojourn here on this earth? Are we stopping to smell the coffee, admire the sunrise, smile at a neighbor, relish the time, appreciate the breath that continues to move in and out of our body?
I am constantly annoyed by the attitude of some nursing students who want to be a nurse now! Having chosen the path, they then get very impatient with the process, the hours needed to study material; the effort required to absorb and synthesize new information. And please don’t take too long to give them their grades back! They cannot imagine what I am talking about when I tell them I had to wait 3 months before I even knew whether I had ‘passed the boards’ – we now call it NCLEX, the exams you must sit to be licensed as a nurse. Now you get your results in less than 48 hours. ‘I would die, Miss,’ they tell me.
I try to make them respect the process of becoming a nurse. There is so much to learn, so many skills to develop, so many experiences to gain before you are ready to stand with someone who is suffering and be able to know how to ease their pain. Nursing school is hard for a reason; it is not easy to truly and authentically be with a person when they are at their most vulnerable. Many people get through nursing school without realizing that. They didn’t take the time to soak in the lessons they were given.
The advances of our technological society have fooled us into thinking there are instant answers to all of life’s puzzles. We can ‘Google’ the answers to a perplexing question; get an instant definition or diagnosis; retrieve the name of that actor that was in that show before, what was his name? When we want to travel we can look up fares and flights for ourselves, no more visits to the travel agent for a duplicated ticket that we must not lose. We can purchase with a click, transfer funds instantly, cook a meal in seconds. It is no wonder then, that we are losing the ability to patiently wait.
I heard a conversation this week, about a man who always reads the last page of a book before the first page, and before deciding if he wants to read it. His partner (on the radio) was shocked! ‘Who does that?’ he asked. I could have called in and told them about my father. I was also shocked when I discovered that he routinely read the last few pages of the book before deciding if he was going to borrow it from the library. He had to confess how confused he became sometimes. Some authors include the first chapter of their next novel at the back of the book! I thought it served him right! How can you spoil the surprise by reading the end?
But he was the same one who often said ‘It is better to travel joyfully, than to arrive.’ He savored each day and each page in isolation, treasuring each moment of life, appreciating the here and now. This is what we miss when we waste our time waiting for our new reality to arrive instead of finding the pleasure in today. Do you remember the joy of anticipating Christmas? Those days leading up to the actual day were full of expectation. Sometimes the anticipation was better than the day itself, for those promising packages may not contain your imagined wonders. But the air itself was different; each morning woke you up with a promise of great things to come. We travelled joyfully, on our best behavior, eagerly awaiting that special day.
This morning I hope you can pause in your hurried life and take a breath, a moment to give thanks for this day, this place, these people who surround you. It may be that what you are racing towards, wishing it would come already, may contain some painful or difficult element that you had not expected. Sometimes when we think things are bad, they get even worse! But they often get worse before they get better. So instead of comparing and agonizing about what might be, what could have been or what should be, we need to be here, in the present.
Have a great weekend, Family! I wish you enough, and I wish that you can see that you have enough, and you are enough.