Whoever said patience is a virtue is a freaking genius.
Don’t run after the bus, let the bus come to you.
There’s a lot we can learn about life from public transport. And right now it seems that waiting to receive what I want is a bit like waiting for the train in India. The train will come – just not when it’s supposed to and not even an hour after that.
I once set out to catch a train from Goa to Kerala at 10pm. The train arrived five hours late and by the time we reached Kochin, the ten hour train trip had doubled in size. We were ten hours late.
Yet what I remember is just how happy I was on that train. I had let go of thinking about the time, stopped calculating, and was genuinely enjoying my time on the hard little bed with the warm fragrant air rushing past and the children selling peanuts wrapped in cones of newspaper and sweet milky chai.
I suspect this is the attraction of India to travellers from the west. Your concept of time is null and void. Your expectations should be left at the immigration control.
How nice is that!
I mean, kind of excrutiatingly annoying if you have to get anything done or live there – but nice for a holiday.
It’s a special lesson to learn and to bring back to your life with your cheesecloth pants, bindis and sparkly mirrored pens. But just like the souvenirs, you might start thinking that such concepts seemed way more appropriate in India. In your home life these things are foreign and out of place.
There’s a time and a place for Patience.
Like another time when I was travelling to India on an Air India flight and the in-flight entertainment suddenly went off. Okay the choice was between old Hindhi movies and sitcoms I’d forgotten about since before the 90s ended, like Mad About You. But with my western views on how things should work, I wanted it back on!
I asked a passing airhostess who confirmed it had just gone off and didn’t even offer a consolatory bag of airline snacks or a promise to sort it out. Now there was a woman with faith. I looked around. Everyone’s screen was off but no one else was scanning and searching for answers. Everyone had accepted the fact and were getting on with eating their ginormous bags of chewra they’d stuffed in their carry-ons.
Then it dawned on me that these people were used to power cut outs and system breakdowns. Even from an airline they didn’t expect more.
This, I thought, was not a time for Patience. I flagged down the next responsible looking steward and he had the system up and going again with a flick of a button. Yes! I could go back to watching Mad About You.
It’s good to have some standards, isn’t it?
There is definitely a time and a place for Patience.
The problem with patience though is that she’s just not very fun. In fact, she can be rather boring.
Patience is the one sitting in the corner at the party acting all aloof. And if she waits long enough the guy will come over and talk to her and she won’t have lost one ounce of dignity or gotten drunk (the two generally go hand in hand, no?).
It seems that I always preferred her sister impatience – the one who gets you to call the guy ten times just to make sure he knows you are a crazy mad woman who he never wants to see again. It’s good to get such things cleared up from the start.
Impatience will make a fool out of you, while Patience is the rock that anchors you to the earth.
I think I have made friends with Patience.
Once, a precious slip of paper I’d cracked out of a fortune cookie told me, ‘bide your time, success is near.’
That was more than ten years ago.
Well, if (relatively) the earth has been around for 46 years and of that we’ve been here for 4 minutes, then I guess ‘near’ would be an appropriate word for it. Otherwise, I’m stuck on the platform in India and I’ve got no idea what time the train’s coming.
But in these ten years I think I’ve gotten to know a thing or two about trains (and Patience). Like I said, there’s a time and a place for Patience and I’m going to tell you now when and where that is.
First, you want something, like to be a full-time writer and free.
Then you do something about it, like find out everything there is to know about it and follow your heart beats and hunches (oh and write that novel or whatever it may be for you).
Now don’t get caught up worrying about the big picture. Just take small steps and take them regularly.
Next, you act as if, like writing this blog.
Patience fits in somewhere around here.
You let go and surrender your desires and wait to be shown the way.
Then you just be happy and grateful not matter what.
I’ll tell you how the story continues…. I’m still waiting.
But being happy and grateful is a really fun way to wait.
The bus doesn’t come faster because you’re checking your watch every two seconds and burning holes in the bus timetable with your magnified glaring.
The bus comes faster when you put on your iPod and enjoy yourself. When you’re having fun, time slips on by like the sinking sun.
Waiting is not giving up if the dream is still alive.
One of Gabrielle Bernstein‘s favourite quotes from a Course In Miracles is ‘those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety.’
Of course waiting without anxiety is no mean feat if you are trying not to. It’s like trying to talk a kid out of the thing they are fixated on.
We need to focus on something else.
We can focus on having fun, but sometimes we start getting all twisted up if we feel that things are not working out.
I was reading an email I’d sent today from when I was moving to Montpellier, France in 2005. I’d stopped off in familiar London and had a blast with the many people I knew there and was feeling anxious about going to France. I wrote…
“I’m sitting in a smoke-filled cyber cafe in Montpellier, France, having just been reunited with some of my friends here. I left England a bit worried about what exactly i was going to do, having to find temporary (for that night) and permanent accommmodation, a job and do it all in French and not being able to get in contact with anyone i knew here. But ever since a perky Eastern European gave me a free coffee at stanstead airport, well things just keep getting better!
I felt so down yesterday in London cos i didn’t have anywhere to stay in France yet and didnt know what i was doing… i was even thinking of staying in London longer cos the move just seemed so difficult and i had such an excellent time there with everybody…and then i had to pay a big excess luggage fee cos Ryan Air have a 15kg luggage limit (i know now how they manage to make a profit on their flights!)…yeah, being cheap doesnt always work out… i felt like crying for some reason but then the girl at Pret-a-Manger gave me a free coffee and i decided that life is not so bad … i decided to keep an open mind and not stress out and let opportunities come to me.
Firstly, no one stopped me to tell me my 3 pieces of handbaggage (stuffed with hair straightener, high heeled shoes, huge toiletry bag, books, jewellery etc) was exceeding the 7kg limit (next time I’m taking the eurostar!)… and then i met a South African man and he also had no where to stay and he found out about buses from the airport and because of him i called the youth hostel and they actually did have place but only for a female so when we got to the town center i pulled my suitcase along for about 30 minutes, through the cobbled streets, through the shopping center, to the hostel. Everything is still familiar to me and the sun was shining and the French was just rolling off my tongue without too much awkwardness.
Anyway, this story is becoming very long but basically i went out to find my friends last night but instead met some guys from a ragga group (theyre from Martinique) that are performing tonight and hung out with them. Tonight and tomorrow night the hostel is completely booked and so this morning i was like, well i’ll just hang out and see what happens, but guess what…i went for a walk this morning to see if i remembered where these 2 girls lived and i found them and so have been in their apartment catching up and so I have someone to stay with for now. Yay! i knew if only i could find my friends then they could help me to find an appartment and get a phone and just make it about 1000 times easier for me…”
You see, sometimes the best things are waiting right around the corner and you don’t even know it. And sometimes a free coffee can change your day or even your life!
But you’ve got to see it and not miss the small miracles that happen daily.
Maybe you’ll suddenly notice that you are a whole lot more patient than you used to be.
So keep your eyes open and your chin up and expect good things to be coming your way.
And hang out with Patience and Gratitude and Fun.