How might impatience be creating anxiety in your life?
“Genius is eternal patience.” — Michelangelo
(New to this series? Start here.)
Here I am, sitting at my keyboard on a rainy, November morning. I’m in my intimate (i.e., small), forest-green computer/guest room as Grizzly — the malamute lying on the floor behind me — animates his adventures in dreamland. The flickering, Frosted Cranberries candle-in-a-jar on my desk is reasonably masking his wet-dog perfume. My steaming tea is at hand. Refreshed from a good night’s sleep, I’m all ready to tap some just-right words out of my keyboard.
But, crap! I’m blocked.
What is it I’m trying to say to finish off this first part of my blog about what’s the hell inside of me? I’ve talked about the hell of living in the trash of hoarded past experiences, imprisoned by self-sabotaging thoughts, and guarded by my fixed mindset. I’ve described the hell of living on the wrong side of the gap that yawns between who I am and who I’m capable of being. I’ve alluded to how the flames of hell can be quenched by unfcukwithable self-love.
But there’s something else. I feel it. There’s another aspect of hell inside of me I want to talk about. Why isn’t it presenting itself? What’s wrong with me for not grasping it? What’s the blockage? Time is precious. I don’t want to be wasting a perfectly good writing day in unproductivity. I’ve got to get this blog done. How can I be successful at my new business if I can’t work efficiently?
I’m really, really frustrated and disappointed with myself. What do I need to do to get moving? Maybe listen to an inspirational TED talk? Read one of my become-a-better-writer motivational books? Should I switch my focus to one of the other many tasks clamouring for my attention? Time is ticking. There’s so much to do and so little time to tick. I’ve been taking way too long getting my act together.
It’s been more than a year already since I’ve retired from my corporate career to develop my new business and it’s not up and running yet. I’m turning 62 this month—it’s not like I have a lifetime ahead of me. It’s hellish, caught up in my racing thoughts. I’m starting to angst. I feel my heart pounding.
And then something awesome happens.
Grizzly yelps. A little sleep-yelp. Possibly he’s pouncing on an unsuspecting mouse in the long, dry grass of his dreamscape. With that yelp the mouse might suddenly be trapped beneath big, wolf-like paws.
And with that yelp, I’m suddenly released—pulled out of my spiralling-out-of-control, panicky thoughts and drawn into his uncomplicated, doggie world. Going with him into his imagined place, I’m feeling warm, autumn sunshine on my head. I hear the forest birds and smell discarded, autumn leaves. My heart is slowing, my angst dissipating. As he cocks his head, listening, watching and waiting to hear if there’s another rustle in the grass or if his pounce is on target, I’m syncing with Grizzly.
He’s personifying (or dogifying, I suppose) the meaning of patience I’d once come across described as: “the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us” (goodreads.com).
Thank you, my furry genius, for reminding me of this other aspect of hell that’s flared up within me: impatience.
Even now, several years into my journey along the path of self-awareness and self-love towards becoming the unfcukwithable me I was born to be, I still need that reminder. Repeatedly. BE PATIENT. Entrust my attention and energy fully to the present moment however it may be presenting—agonizing about neither the past nor future—and trust that whatever is not showing up in the moment as I think it ought to, will appear in due time, as it’s meant to.
Over time, I’ve come to learn that patience enables me to clear the cluttering junk from my mind, one manageable piece of rubbish at a time. Patience enables me to build the bridge across the gap towards my real, empowered self, one sturdily-installed self-love brick at a time. Patience enables me to overcome impatience, one dog-taught lesson at a time. As Skin Horse said to Velveteen Rabbit on the topic of being real: “You become. It takes a long time.”
A butterfly can’t be hurried out of the chrysalis. Words can’t be hurried out of the keyboard. A masterpiece can’t be hurriedly created. The beauty, I’ve discovered, is that each and every person is simultaneously a masterpiece and a work in progress. I think of the artistic masterpieces that have been found hidden beneath amateur paintings. My work in progress is removing the concealing paint, i.e., loving the hell out of myself.
What reminder (it might not be a dreaming dog) can you keep at hand to bring your mind back to a state of patience when anxiety or want of instant gratification is threatening?
If you’re challenged to see your current, amateurish self as a masterpiece, or you trust there’s a masterpiece beneath but don’t know how to reveal it, read Part 4 to learn how you can love the hell out of yourself to become the unfcukwithable you.