I was about five years old when I learned this song off one of those old records of children’s songs:
Have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry
When you are impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember, that God has patience, too.
And think of all the times when others have to wait on you.
I was about 13 or so. I had been babysitting my 2-year-old niece, Sarah, and was frustrated and upset. Mom did her best to calm me down. “Maybe you’re supposed to learn patience.” And few years later, after a frustrating lesson with one of my first students, his mom called to complain about my behavior. After getting off the phone, I talked with my mom, upset at letting my frustration in the lesson get to me. Again, Mom comforted me. “You just need to learn to be more patient.”
I’ve had many issues in my life with being patient. The first, and simplest step for me, was patience with people. I desperately wanted to be a good teacher, and I quickly learned how to give people their time. That was easy for me.
I was always impatient with time, though. Things didn’t happen quickly enough, I had to wait for important things, or to find out if they were important. I always thought about the next thing, and I always wanted it to happen NOW. It led to a lot of anxiety and tension in my work life and home life.
The thing is, for most of my life I simply accepted this type of impatience from myself. I had made a concerted effort to be patient with other people, and it paid off. But until a year ago, I never tried to change my hatred of the slow passage of time. I never before tried to relax and let time be time and not worry and stress about “next”.
That changed. For reasons of which I’m not entirely sure, I adopted a mantra of sorts: this doesn’t matter; you can’t make anything happen or control anything except yourself, and then only if you haven’t had any tequila; things will happen when or if they happen; chill. And it worked, oddly enough. Yeah, I have to remind myself from time to time. Yes, I still get anxious for “next” occasionally. But the reminders are needed less often, the anxiety rarely makes its unwelcome appearance. But mostly…mostly I just chill.
I feel a bit like I’m only letting my life happen. Sometimes I feel like I should be living more intentionally. People my age have plans and futures to contemplate. I should be more prepared or whatever.
But I’m happier like this. Watching my life unfold like a television series. Not a Netflix Original; no marathoning this bitch. My music is growing in ways I hadn’t imagined. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. I wasn’t giving myself enough time.
Because, you see, the final patience lesson had to wait until I learned patience with time: I needed to be patient with myself. I always expected too much from myself while simultaneously expecting that I wouldn’t be able to do so. But I stopped expecting things. I stopped having any preconceived notions about what I should be doing and gave myself time to let what I could be doing shine. And my could keeps improving.
I’ve heard it said that if life keeps challenging you in certain ways, it means you still need to learn that lesson. Patience is my lesson. I’m getting closer to understanding it all the time.