Patience – endurance, fortitude, perseverance, persistence, forbearance, resignation… Do any of us have enough of this trait in any given moment of our days? I like this definition: ‘an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay’. Ah, a willingness to suppress – this implies that, if I want to, I can nurture this trait in myself.
Curiosity doesn’t have much patience with obstacles – it wants to know, and it wants to know right now. Or wants to be or have or feel or experience… Right now.
Having children requires a person to cultivate patience, Herculean patience in the face of unexplainable infant fury. Empathy for their misery led me finally to patience. It was my job to use my curiosity to understanding their needs and meet them if I could. And soothe if I couldn’t. Soothing requires patience. Which comes in handy when the endless questions come, then the pushing of boundaries…
Gardening requires patience. Plants grow even more slowly than children, but thankfully don’t have hours-long crying jags or want to know why. I have one houseplant that I bought back in 1986 that is still going. (My former mother-in-law even revived it from the mild frost-bite it got on a cross country trip.) What will thrive, or make-do, or perish? Why? Patience is necessary to get these answers.
In our vegetable gardening this year, we are watching the tomatoes form and we are full of questions. Impatient questions – how will they taste, when will they be ready? Patient questions will get us there – how much sun, how much water?
Diligence is part of the definition of patience. This one I understood from childhood on – because of its importance to structure and process and ritual. Curiosity can’t really be sated without some understanding and application of methodology. Where would I fit the new information if I didn’t have a means to categorize it in with the information that I already possess? Diligence comes in handy to retain the information or experience that curiosity prompted.
Timing is an important component. We bought the tomato plants in May, already a couple of inches tall, knowing that tomatoes wouldn’t actually be ready until sometime in August. Now that it is August, the patience is wearing a little thin. The ability and willingness to suppress our restlessness for our homegrown tomatoes is getting harder to apply. But more crucial to a successful outcome.
There are so many places and instances where I can apply this patience I have learned, am learning. At work, while driving, in line, when I’m out of sorts…
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