I haven’t always been the most patient person in the world. Like most people, when I was waiting for something to happen, I wanted it now. I didn’t like the feeling of waiting for things once I had my mind made up. whether it be food I ordered at a restaurant, a package that I ordered through the mail, or even when I was sitting waiting for the doctor or dentist. I had places to go and things to do and I didn’t want to spend my day (and waste my time) waiting.
But as I get older, I have learned not only to not mind waiting for things, but going so far as appreciating the time spent waiting as part of my journey through life.
Of course this doesn’t apply to life and death situations – like when dealing with illness or injuries – but I am referring to everyday circumstances when not getting what we want the instant that we ask for has few consequences other than not being able to experience the instant gratification of “seeing/wanting/having” and all that goes with it. I believe that this is the case the vast majority of times.
There are many benefits to waiting for things. From giving ourselves a chance to think things through regarding certain situations to teaching us that our own wants, desires and needs are not always fulfilled instantly, waiting for something we desire plays an important role in our own socialization skills and teaches us how to better coexist with others in a civilized society. That may sound over technical to you and may be over-thinking things, but in today’s world of “Me! Me! Me!” I think that the realization that there are other considerations besides ourselves and our own perspectives, and by realizing this and respecting it, we are better adjusted and more rounded as individuals. And that gives us a better sense of belonging and self worth.
Besides – the world is too big and has too many people for everyone to be first. While we may be number one in our own little corner of this planet, out in the real world, we are one of billions of people – each with their own desires and wants and sense of self. We can’t all have everything available to us the second we decide that we want it or need it. Part of being a member of a civilized society is that there is some sense of order and that everyone needs to understand that taking turns is an important element to help the society function successfully. I think sometimes we forget these things.
So what has me thinking on this tangent this morning . . . ?
Lately, it has occurred to me that people really don’t like waiting for anything. Being a quiet observer, I noticed that many of the complaints I have seen from people have been in regards to waiting for one thing or another. Supplies thorough the mail. Food at a restaurant. The line at the gas station or market. These are all things that require us to be patient.
In a world where we are teaching our children that they are the most important people in the world (maybe to us, but not so much to others with their own children) I wonder if this anxiousness and lack of patience is just a little bit of our own doing. After all, we train our kids from the day they are born that they are the center of the universe. Of course they are the center of our world, but as they grow and learn to socialize with others, I wonder if we didn’t somehow miss the transition of adapting them from living within a small family unit where they are the center of attention to being in a large society with billions of others – many who have also been raised to think as they do – that they matter most. It is a fine line to walk, it seems. I suppose there is no clear cut right or wrong answer.
I am not trying to pick on anyone. It’s just something that came to mind from the large amounts of people who I see on a daily basis that feel that things just don’t happen fast enough. I can’t tell if it was always this way and I am just noticing it now, or if it is something that has evolved over time, and finally got to a point where it could no longer be ignored. I am not sure.
Perhaps it is because over the past few months I have been waiting for some things myself. I usually consider myself pretty patient. I try to be considerate of others and be reasonable, but I admit that sometimes I run out of patience and the anxiousness gets the best of me.
There have been several things in my life that I have been waiting for. Some are minor and others were potentially life-changing. The anticipation of what is to come sometimes made it hard to be patient. Some of these include things such as clearing up a tax error that my accountant had made several years ago (in my favor, but I want it cleared nonetheless) to receiving my paperwork to remain in Canada (that took five years – it is done now, but the five year wait was excruciating.) to receiving a package of supplies that I ordered that took over six weeks to arrive. While all these incidences had different degrees of importance as far as my life’s picture went, they all caused different levels of anxiety, and robbed me of some of my productivity and even my happiness to a small degree. I worried about each of them from time to time and when I did so, it sometimes prevented me from going about my day in a good and productive way. At times the worry even robbed me of my creativity. There was a point when I was awaiting my immigration paperwork that for many months, or even years I was nearly unable to function because of the concern it brought upon me. After all – how can you be creative when you have an anvil hanging over your head? It was nearly debilitating.
But everything did work out in the end. And after the years of waiting for things to happen (and the accompanying anxiety that waiting brought with it) I figured out that all that worry didn’t make a bit of difference. What happened in the long run would have happened whether I worried about it or not. I look back upon that chapter in my life as one that was particularly educational. I learned a great deal from it. One of the most important lessons that I took with me was that the time and energy that I spent worrying could have been spent much better doing something productive. While there are circumstances when we need to take action and be interactive, there are many more we have in our lives that we need to let go and refocus on something positive and let things play out as they are supposed to. Worrying about things we cannot change is a waste of time. Therein lies the skill of “Patience.”
I have a short story to tell (I know this is already a long post!) that I want to share with you. The reason I want to share is because I learned something from it. In itself it may not seem like a big deal, but that small amount of knowledge has the potential to be applied to many circumstances in my life, and I believe yours as well. It is a lesson in patience.
About six weeks ago I ordered some supplies for some projects I want to do. I had ordered from this company before, and they are located very far away, in South Africa. While they have stockists closer to me, I like to order from them direct because not only do they have the complete line of products to offer (the stockists do not), but they are a bit less expensive and I like to order directly from the designers whenever I can, as they gain the most profit that way and I want to see them around in the future.
Since it is a big deal for me to order from them (a little more expensive to ship) I try to do so only a couple of times a year, and the orders are large. I try to get everything at once so that the overall cost plus shipping is the lowest. This was a large order.
Preparing the order took me several weeks. Not only did I need to save up the money for the order, but I also didn’t want to ‘miss’ anything that I may need. There were several correspondences between me and the company for several weeks before the order was actually placed. We wanted everything correct.
Long story short, once I placed the order, it was boxed up and shipped out within a day. I was given a tracking number and excited with the thought of having the supplies. They had some new items and I had so many ideas as to how to design with them. It was going to be great!
I watched the package through the tracking and within about three days, the tracking report said “left for destination country” and I knew I was close to receiving my goods. After a couple of days, I started to feel that wonderful anticipation every day when I got to the post office. After all – the package was sent via air mail and surely it would arrive within a week (it had to clear customs, etc.) But day after day passed and it didn’t come. I checked the tracking and the last scan was on March 31st, when it left South Africa.
Around the second week of April, with no change in the status, I began to worry. I began to wonder if it was lost.
By the third week of April – still nothing. It wasn’t until four weeks after the scan that I contacted the company. My contact there looked things up and all she saw was it was delayed, due to an air parcel strike in South Africa. She said they promised it would travel ‘soon.’
I tried not to let it get to me, but I must admit it did. Those who I mentioned it to said I should demand my money back, but I didn’t want to do that just yet. The company that sold the supplies was honorable and it wasn’t really their fault. The package was insured, but that would take a long time to claim. Besides – I had nowhere else to get the supplies. I had to be patient.
There were times when I allowed it to make me cranky and upset. After all – I had wanted to make something for Mother’s Day with the supplies and that was out of the question. There was also a great deal of money that was into them, and I had nothing to show for it. But I fought the urge to act on my disappointment and tried to refocus on something else. When I stopped allowing it to ruin my day, it actually made me feel better. I knew that if down the line I didn’t receive the package, the company would make good on it. I tried to put myself into the position where I sent something to one of my customers and it got lost. It isn’t always someone’s fault.
You can probably guess the end of the story. On Friday, I finally saw movement on the tracking. The package had shown up in Montreal for customs clearance and was on its way to me. By Sunday it was in Halifax. Yesterday I picked it up.
When I opened the package, my initial enthusiasm returned instantly. The supplies are as beautiful and wonderful as I remembered. The materials amazing. I once again thought of all the wonderful creations that will come from them and I was once again in my ‘happy place’, as well as relieved. I can’t wait to order again from the same company.
More importantly though, I learned something. It was something that I already knew, but perhaps I needed a reminder.
“Worrying about things we can’t change is detrimental. Patience is a very valuable skill that we need to master.”
I am glad I didn’t jump off the handle or rant about this. Things happen. The world does NOT revolve around me (except in my cat’s eyes – and maybe Keith’s on a good day!) Consideration for all things and people involved is a far healthier way to handle things when they don’t go just right. Not only does it alleviate a great deal of stress (that we put on OURSELVES, I must add!) but it makes you feel really good about yourself and how you reacted once the ‘crisis’ is resolved. That positive reinforcement will help you cope even better next time. I promise.
I learned this all from a little box of thread:
“Patience is a virtue.”
Have a beautiful day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"