How can you be patient, when you are told that things cannot wait? I have always been confused about this. Should I go out to do things? Or should I wait? There are no straightforward answers it seems.
Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.
“I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,'” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass
The more I have pondered about patience, I realize that it is an attitude. And it is action.
In my life, I have always associated patience with ‘let it go, let it flow’. I am not sure about others. Patience is resignation sometimes, and when we await the outcome, stress seems to be inevitable.
I am an impatient person. I was a topper in academics, and I was a decent performer in my corporate career. But I always felt that the outcome of my corporate career, which involves structures and people, has been less desirable than what I would have preferred.
A similar experience continues in my entrepreneurial journey, where despite the qualities that I possess I have failed more than succeeded. I always feel that my performance is top class, but the end fruit is always less than desirable. Years have passed but things have not changed.
I stumbled across a psychic a few days ago. She asked me what was weighing on my mind. I told her about my nagging question.
‘What is missing that I am not getting the result I want?’ That was a simple question after all. I was not sure if she had any answers.
‘Did you wait for enough?’ I got a question back from her.
‘Things that should have happened, did not happen. Days have passed, yet the best thing I could do was to move to something else. Another job, another project, another client.’ I said. My answer was obvious. That was the most nagging question and the problem of my life.
The problem was not in one stream. It was everywhere in my life.
‘Is it only at work or elsewhere too?’ Her question was following my thoughts.
‘Everywhere. Perhaps, except one.’ I paused for a moment. My wife. My relationship with my wife had improved after a lot of ebbs and flows.
‘My wife.’ I said, but not willing to open up further to her.
‘So what worked with her?’ She moved forward with another question.
‘I was in my world and she was in hers. In fact, she suffered a lot even going through bouts of depression. I was to be blamed. I was angry and I protested. I did not want to carry the cross. If I was busy at work or somewhere else, she could have found other means to keep herself busy. But she had issues, and it fell squarely on my shoulders. I was frustrated and angry. I was depressed myself.’ My throat dried and the old anger simmered through the surface.
She was oblivious of that but stayed on point. ‘Then what changed?’
‘I loved her and I had to make a choice. Move forward together or not. I chose to move forward together. She was more educated than me but did not do anything. I am told I am a genius and I felt that I was on a leash if I had to make things work. It was either my marriage or the unlimited access to my life. I could find a middle path.’ I felt proud when I made that last statement.
‘Middle path. It means that things are not perfect, but things are working.’ Her voice was encouraging. I felt good that she did not open me up but just nudged me forward.
‘Today, we are in a better place. We spend more time with each other. We go out, talk stupid things, and watch nothing movies. The little things. But I will tell you that is certainly not the original me. No more crash-and-burn approach to life. I have become patient, let things move forward then try to chase them down, and take time for other things in the typical day.’ That sounded like a victory. I started feeling better.
‘Patience. Patience.’ Her words resonated in my ears. ‘Patience is the biggest virtue, brother.’
‘You worked things out. More importantly, you worked with the other person – the same person who you thought otherwise, yet here you are, talking about it as a ‘success’.’ She was right. I knew where this was heading. But I decided to be patient.
‘Patience, as you now realize, is not about waiting alone. It is about bidding for the time, keeping the right attitude, both inside and out, in right earnest. Earnestness is the key to patience. In adversity, patience is a key part of resilience. What you had thought would fall apart, is now your bedrock of life. Right?’ She sounded like a part of me. The answers were within me.
‘But…’ I still drawled.
‘But your life’s question still begs to be answered. I figured.’ Her prescience of my knowledge made me wonder if I had to ever reply.
‘Patience is such a virtue that it even overcomes time. It is the most powerful tool for success. Whether it is your personal life or professional, patience will be your ally in adversity. Patience is not about inaction, it is about timely action with an earnest attitude. If you could work through your marriage, you could work through other parts of your life, brother.’
‘I am not sure. But sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure things out. Giving up is not an option, I want things to work in those parts of my life where I have invested time, energy, and focus.’ I was more speaking to myself than to her.
‘Your earnest attitude is already in place. All you need to keep at it. I don’t think it is a motivation issue, it is about patience. Things will happen. It is your faith that gives your patience. So keep the faith, brother.’ Her words sounded very familiar, like one of those slogans I had read in a temple. But more importantly, she was right. I was earnest, and I am now.
My questions are still being answered as days pass in my life. I hope I can share the answers to the big question I am trying to figure out. I think about it once in a while, and when things are still promising but don’t finally happen.
It is frustrating and sometimes, I just want to give in and give up. I hate not knowing the answer. It feels like a journey without a destination. But the faith creeps in, somewhere, somehow.
Like the psychic pointed out, the answers lie within me. But it might just not be the time for them to reveal themselves. The day might come. I have to just be patient and keep the faith.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present, you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet