Growing in Patience

June 15 2012

 

“I am driving on a long empty road. I can see my destination at the end of it, and I just want to be there right now. But I’m not telepathic. I want to speed up and get there as fast as possible. But the speed limit is 35 mph. And this slow, steady pace is excruciating. That is my life right now.”

First, let me correct myself: Telekinetic. I meant telekinetic. Moving on.

I recall being inspired to write that segment by my actual driving habits, but upon observing the date, I noticed that I was smack in the middle of a six-month period of bus travel. I guess it was a distant memory. I was working at Disney World on their college program at this time. My mother had passed away exactly one month before I wrote this. Her death had marked the beginning of a downward spiral into grief-riddled lethargy for me, though I’m certain a similar disposition would have arisen even without that extenuating circumstance. I was working as much as possible in order to keep myself busy, refusing to do anything different with my free time, and then bemoaning the boredom that resulted. I blamed my unhappiness on the repetition within my days and weeks, believing my return to college would also mean a return to energy and interest and ambition.

I suppose that is what sparked this analogy between my dislike for low speed limits and my distaste for slow lifestyles. Though I’ve always been perfectly willing to work my hardest for the things I want, I had (and still have) trouble accepting that the hard work often goes on for much longer than I would like before the goal or reward is reached. As a child, I remember that a lot of my daydreams – which I created in the form of movies – starred a girl who was an exceptionally young fashion designer or model or singer or spy or whatever excited me at the moment. It wasn’t just because I was still young at the time; I felt that if one didn’t achieve something at a very young age, then even if it was achieved later on, it wasn’t as impressive.

That was, of course, a rather short-sighted perspective, but nowadays, I still have to remind myself that I have time to do the things I want to do. In early 2016, smack in the middle of my second college program with Disney World (am I seeing a pattern here?) I told myself this:

“I want to remember… I need to remember, that life is not just the beginning. Life goes on past 30 and 40 and 50 and 60. There are a million dreams I have that I will still be perfectly capable of achieving when I am 70 years old, even if I am not physically in the best condition. But assuming I retain mental ability….

Here are a few:

 

-Learn Swahili

-Visit all the countries of the world

-Write a book

-Go to culinary school

-Get a Ph.d

-Get a flight license

-Drive a Ferrari

 

Don’t short change yourself. You have a lifetime to do what you want to do.”

Perhaps it’s just that I have so many things I want to do and such a screwed up idea of time that I don’t find it plausible that I will get it all done. That often leaves me restless and impatient during seemingly “slower” periods of life – typically when I know a change is coming, and I just want that change to be here now. Like halfway through a cruise contract when I’m feeling ready to get on with the next thing. Halfway is definitely a recurring theme…

Ironically, it seems the things that I wasn’t searching out, that I was willing to wait a good long time for or even not experience at all, have somehow found me at a relatively young age. Falling in love. Creating a committed partnership with a man. Having a baby. I was content for these things to materialize in my 30s or beyond, but here they all are… five years early. On the other hand, my career goals seem to be constantly floating out of reach while I trudge through molasses trying to grab them.

So maybe I haven’t grown much in this area yet. Maybe I don’t even want to grow. Being patient with your life’s speed and direction might make you more content in the moment, but it could also turn into a cycle that ends up slowing you down. Is ambition fueled by impatience? It’s possible. For now, there’s not much I can do besides patiently wait out the time remaining in this era. And maybe start learning Swahili in the meantime.

That’s the lesson here. Use the time you have to achieve something, no matter how small. I may be stuck on a ship, but I can still read books and plays. I can still perfect my embroidery skills. I can still write. There are almost always limits of some kind on our lives, but rather than just patiently waiting for those limits to disappear, try finding a way with whatever time and resources you have to push yourself forward, to prepare for the future, to gain even a percentage of your goals. To grow.

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