When things don’t happen fast enough or in the order expected, I get impatient. When I get impatient, I get frustrated. When I get frustrated, I blurt my annoyance. This is something I’ve struggled with all my life and probably is the cause of my weight struggle—all that stress creates cortisol, which the experts say makes for fat bellies.
It’s not the half of marionberry pie I ate after dinner, it’s that I get amped by long lines, traffic jams and people who can’t make up their minds. If I was more patient, my teeth would be whiter, my windows cleaner, my stories smarter and my garden prettier. If I was more abiding or tolerant I wouldn’t have a big butt.
I overheard clerks at Walmart yesterday criticizing a customer for some kind of annoying behavior and they concluded with this observation: “She said she’s a teacher. You’d think she’d be more patient.”
I immediately felt bad. I’m so impatient I’ll never be a good teacher. My children have suffered, my family is estranged, I’ve run off several husbands and a couple of house pets, including a tortoise, meanwhile it seems retail clerks across America are taking my inventory.
But, with the New Year, I’m determined to study this character flaw and figure out what patience really means—where you find it, why you need it and what to do with it, if you get it. What I’m afraid to learn, however, is impatience is a chronic and incurable affliction, a genetic part of my very nature.
So, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’ve adopted patience as my personal 2014 word. The idea of adopting a word to ponder isn’t original. The idea came from writer/teacher Molly Fisk, who encourages people to choose a word for the year. Molly got the idea from someone else and it’s being passed along.
Molly suggests not leaping to your word-for-a-year. She thinks one should be open to the idea of a single word to ponder and let it come of its own accord and find you.
“In my nine years of following this practice, when I open my mind to find a word, the word finds me instead,” Molly wrote on her blog. “And it won’t go away, even when I want it to.”
“Surrender” was one from a few years ago she said she hated.
“I wanted ‘love’ or ‘kindness,’ something overtly positive,” she said. “But I learned a ton about myself when I asked, in times of confusion or discord during that year, ‘what would happen if I surrendered?’”
Can’t help but wonder what a year of living with “patience” will do for me. I’m as hard-headed as I am impatient, but I’ll give it a try—like brushing my teeth and sweeping the kitchen floor, can’t hurt.
Since patience won’t leave me along and go away already, looked up some quotes and found hundreds from the biblical to the gooey variety. GoodReads, the web site for book lovers, lists more than 400 quotes that include the word patience.
I’m starting small—here are a couple that struck me:
Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
Ambrose Bierce, journalist and author of The Devil’s Dictionary
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
From my dictionary: Patience, adjective – able to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. “Be patient, your time will come.”
Synonyms: uncomplaining, tolerant, resigned, stoical, understanding, accommodating, tenacious, determined, resolved.
My favorite quote:
It has been said good things come to those who wait… All I have to say is whatever is coming to me, better be freaking fantastic!
Nishan Panwar, poet & quotemeister
If you’ve got a word you’re going to contemplate during 2014, let us know what it is, where it found you and how things are going. Leave in the comment box below. I’ll be patiently waiting to hear from you.