Monday, June 11, 2007

The Seven Virtues - Patience

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In light of my conituning Seven Deadly Sins posts, I thought it fitting to write a bit about the Seven Virtues, and my general lack thereof.

If Patience really is a virtue, I've spent my life on the fast track to hell. I'm not naturally patient. I think that Patience is not so much a virtue as a learned art, and as with all learned arts, some of us are just better masters than others.

Now I'm not the woman behind you in the checkout line at the supermarket who huffs and haws when the cashier has to call Joey from the back to check a price. I don't get uptight over late flights or long lines. I learned a long time ago not to sweat the small stuff, even though I must constantly remind myself that as I'm driving in Italian traffic, the epitome of tailgater heaven.

I'm unpatient over the big stuff. And that's so so much worse. I know most have you have met me now as I am planning my move to Colorado, but you can't imagine the excriciating, painstaking wait that has led up to this moment. My problem has always been that once I decide I want something or need something, NOW should definitely be the next word in that phrase!

And as the fates would have it, I have married the most patient man on the planet. He's right up there with Buddha. One of his favorite exchanges with me (which probably doesn't translate half as well in English) is:

Me: I think I've finally learned how to be more patient...

Him: Really?

Me: Really...

Him: That's just the beginning...

I see this icky lack of Patience in my very brain. My creativity comes in crazy flashes, my ideas move so quickly that they often collide, and wind up in a messy pile.

So how impatient am I? I found a list of the defining characteristics of Patience on this site, here are some of them:

Sit back and wait for an expected outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, or frustration.

Ok - I'm actually pretty good at that, as long as I'm not in a hurry

Let go of your need for immediate gratification.

Hmmm- well, OK

Display tolerance, compassion, understanding, and acceptance toward those who are slower than you in developing maturity, emotional freedom, and coping abilities.

This one I really am good at. OK.

Accept your human frailty in the pursuit of personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Are you serious?

Accept the set backs and reversals inevitable in your quest for personal growth.

The "F" word comes to mind, but OK.

Hang on to a relationship when trouble arises that may take some time to resolve.

Hell yes.

Temper your enthusiasm, energy, exuberance, and excitement after you have experienced a renewal of spirit, received revelations or insights.

No way! Life is for celebrating!

See that overnight reformations are rarely long lasting; gradual change and growth have a greater durability.

Well, I beg to differ.

Feel relaxed, calm, and placid as you face your daily schedule and the challenges it presents.

Placid... did they actually use the word placid?

My score is probably about 50/50.

Then again, Patience just doesn't look all that desirable to me...


Jennifer said...

Oh dear. I'm not good at any of those. Maybe when I grow up a bit I'll learn?

Romerican said...

I must say, living in italy has taught me to be somewhat more patient (thanks italy!) but i'm still a total compulsive freak and i still lose my temper... but hey, who wants to be perfect?!?

Rebecca said...

Yes - I get impatient with the big life stuff too - when I make any kind of life-changing decision - I want it implemented IMMEDIATELY.

Unfortunately I can feel a bit huffy and puffy at the supermarket checkout - but when I find myself doing that I try very hard to stop - because it is awful and witchy and ungrateful and pointless.

Jenn in Holland said...

The more I read you, the more I think you are me, or I am you. Or something like that. Of course if I was you I would speak Italian, and I don't. I would also be extremely centered and awful darn cool. I am not that either. Oh, hell.
Anyway, I reacted similarly to the list of patient attributes. I really haven't even come close to mastering this virtue. Especially like you say in the get it NOW feeling that rises up in me when I have a plan.
I do have intentions of growing up someday. I just can't quite get my mind around all that it entails.
Great post Jennifer!

Cate said...

Well Jenn, if you're going to hell, then so am I. Glad to know I'll know someone cool there ;)

jennifer said...

Well maybe we can all meet up in hell for cocktails someday?
Jenn- that was the biggest fattest compliment I've received in ages. Thank you

anno said...

These attributes of patience must have been written by some swedish lutheran who has eaten far too much lutefisk and cold boiled potatos in their life! Who would want to be so placid that even the gargoyles venture near?

When it comes to issues that matter, it sounds like you're right on course. Displaying tolerance and compassion, hanging onto a relationship even through trouble or conflict: these are qualities worth possessing.

Tempering enthusiasm, exuberance, and excitement? No way!