“Patience 'Are' a Virtue.”

“Patience 'are' a Virtue.”

That’s what my dad would always say to me. Ha Ha, Dad. It's sort of a pun: as in multiple patients...vs the quality of "patience". My dad, probably trying to get me to lighten up, drove me crazy with that phrase! And I heard it a lot because patience was not my strong suit. But if he were alive today, he’d be proud of me because I have actually acquired a smidgeon of the stuff. It came to my attention again the other day in a silly situation. It was when I was told the shoes I ordered would arrive in a week and I said “Oh. Ok. That’s fine.” This is in stark contrast to the old normal of “Can you overnight them? Or even Second-Day them? Can I pick them up today at another store?”

This wasn’t the first time I’d noted this shift in the way I roll. Patience, or the lack thereof, has come up with many of my clients lately, so I’ve been noting it in my own life. I’d say I’m doing pretty well. For instance, I’m not counting the days until we leave on our vacation. My website design not done like yesterday? It will come in good time. Too warm still to put in the new landscaping? Eh…what’s another six weeks?

This isn’t to say I’m Ms. Mellow if I really need a plumber and they can’t come within say eight hours, or if I have to wait in a doctor’s office for a ridiculous amount of time, but many of the other pieces in life? I have acquired a different way of being about it all. How did that happen?

Patience was nudged into being in me by the arrival of my 90-year-old mother to live nearby. I adored my mother, and witnessing her slow decline brought me much sadness but also many gifts, including the gift of patience. Rather than my vibrant, go-getter mom, I watched as her energy waned, her mind slipped into a fog and her physical abilities declined. As she began to retell the same stories over and over, I bit my tongue and just listened. As she slowly counted out change at the grocery store while a line grew behind her, I would guard her from any impatient individuals behind us. When she took longer and longer to get in and out of the car, and the many other changes I observed, my love and gratitude for her taught me to slow the heck down and go with it.

While patience dawned within me, I began to not just notice but to deeply understand that life is more than checking items off of the To-Do list. It’s more than setting goals and working tirelessly to achieve them. It’s those in-between moments that make up a rich life. Rather than just the climax, life is the entire story. It is the space between desire and manifestation; between great ideas and their fruition. It is the time of the small moments, those that stay with you in the end versus the fireworks moments that ultimately fizzle out anyway.

While this recognition came gradually, its landing came as a revelation. There are many more profound revelations and more eloquent definitions of what Life is, but this one had impact for me, someone who had lived a good part of her life tapping her foot, drumming her fingers, checking her watch. Life is the in-between times! Wow!

And so when my clients struggle with patience, I can relate. One in particular wanted the ring, the kids and the grandkids right now this very second please. Another wanted the promotion, the car and the prestige immediatemente!  

While I’ve always known these and similar desires would not show up overnight, for much of my life I continued to angst over the fact that they hadn’t shown up overnight. I focused on what wasn’t present instead of all the richness that was right in front of me. Certainly I’d notice that there were these “moments in-between” and I was grateful for them, but what was in the forefront of my mind was the lack of that thing, that objective, that goal that I had been aiming for.

When the Patience Revelation hit and I finally figured out that this was truly not a powerful or peaceful place to live in, it was such a relief! And I found that the more powerful, calmer, more centered place to live is the space in-between. The bonus was when I was able to transfer this mindset of patience that I learned from caring for my mother, to other situations.

Now that I’m not pre-occupied with NOT having the things that I want right-now-this-very-minute, I have found instead appreciation and gratitude. It is ever so much better than the aggravation, annoyance, angst, and crankiness that accompanied impatience.

And the two clients I mentioned? Through our work together, they are finding the same thing in their own ways. For instance, one is feeling appreciation for her guy and the endearing quirks of his personality that make him a slow-poke decision maker. This, instead of simmering in irritation at him all the time. And the other client? She has noticed and now appreciates her increasing professionalism and skills, and seems to have more allies at work now too.

For me, besides being grateful that I do have other shoes in my closet I can wear until my new shoes arrive, among many other blessings in my life, I notice I am also more joyful, calmer, a better listener…and actually present in each of the moments of my life. This has been a huge shift for me!

Indeed, Dad, patience and virtue do go hand in hand: patience allows for the appreciation of the virtues—the admirable qualities and goodness—of all that surrounds us, and in reflective moments, in ourselves as well. 

So put on your Patience suit. Zip it up, and plant some appreciation in the space in life between what you want and when you get it. Like me, and my clients, you might notice you’re kinder, calmer, more joyful, and much more appreciative of this gift that is your life.

Posted October 22, 2017.

Catherine Shipman