Stand still, say little
or better nothing at all
Stand still, stay little
why bother walk than crawl
Stand still, sway little
for whom do you stay alive
for whom shall you thrive
Stand still, say stay, never sway
sway never stay, say
say stay, sway, stand still – Still stand
or nothing at all.
I used to wait…
Days are ending before they even begin, and I am trying to find a way to simultaneously slow time down and move it quickly forward.
Waiting is an acquired skill. Truly, it is not an easy task, especially when the unknown is that for which one is waiting. I learned how to wait, however, during my childhood while I lived in a convent in Jamaica.
There were many months inbetween my trips to see my mother (and then eventually also my sisters) in the United States. There was nothing exciting about that waiting. Rather it was quite terrifying as I often feared for the safety of my family because they were so very far away.
In those days, I did not find joy in the thought of going to America as many of my peers thought I would and should feel. After all, what Jamaican child would not want to travel to see the wonders of America? At least, that was their thinking… I did not, however, prescribe. During those years, I could not have cared less about travelling to America – All I wanted was to see my family… wherever they were.
Travelling alone as a child was equally terrifying, especially as I travelled by airplane for hours – Jamaica to Boston, Boston to Jamaica, Jamaica to Orlando, Orlando to Jamaica – Time never seemed to move quickly enough.
Lately, I have found that I am still very much like my childhood self: a bit terrified of the unknown, but waiting for it nonetheless. What is different, however, is that as an adult I am appreciative of each and every second that I have in the day. Whereas in my childhood, I despised time, which seemed ever long. I suppose the difference is that as a child I merely tolerated the process of waiting. As an adult, however, I have simply become patient.
Life is changing fast…
I often express the fact that one can only change and control one’s self and no one else. The same could be said for situations.
Presently, I stand amidst a flurry of activity and inactivity, over which I truly have limited control. Then again, even if I could have control, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want it. Why? Well, simply because I am a planner, who attempts to create order and routine wherever I go, and who is hyper-aware of time (in a sort social clock way). Whether this stems from the uncertain structure of my childhood, i.e. living in multiple places and away from my family, I am not certain. What I do know, however, is that I spent an inordinate amount of time creating a structured self and world only to watch both destruct and fall to chaos in a matter of few short years.
Transitions of all types tend to be stressful. Thus, as I experienced life-changing transitions and disruptions to my well-planned and well-timed established order, I experienced great amounts of stress (and we know just how good that is for fibromyalgia – Right?) . Most of the stress I experienced was as a direct result of these transitions, but there was a good deal of stress that came from my own internal processing, i.e. negative self-talk – I engaged in emotional warfare with myself, berating myself for not complying with my mental agenda and achieving goals in a timely manner. Fortunately, the process of battling an overly planned future and uncertain present led me to the following realization: at the end of the day, I simply want to be happy, regardless of the presence of either order or chaos.
There is beauty to be found in chaos. Though, some years ago… perhaps even a year and a half ago, I would not have agreed. Now, I find that chaos brings about opportunity for growth, which my own life has shown me, especially over that last few months. It is in the deconstruction of one’s life and self that core truths can be found. After all, once the masks have all fallen away, only the face remains, upon which the truth of one’s life is plainly written for all to see. Sometimes, one has a choice as to when and how to remove the masks.
Sometimes, however, life simply tears them off one by one without any warning. Either way, the removal of the masks and the resulting confrontation of the self is rife with uncertainty due to the potential unknowns about the self, with which one must contend. These unknowns can be ego–shattering, and can lead to an experience of internal chaos.
So, what’s the point of this rambling, D.? Well, I suppose it could be referred to as a moment of indulgence, i.e. for a bit stream of consciousness writing. There is also this point: patience is a not just a virtue, it is a necessity, especially if one’s goal is to survive the unknown, to create order out of chaos, and to thrive during the process of it all.
With each breath
like the sunrise of this morning,
finding solace in the fragility
ashes can mean rebirth.
As I am
wings burnings flame red, yellow, orange,
welcoming finality as a friend
acknowledging that freedom
each moment experienced as the first
time with serenity and absent
-db (Spring 2005)
There are, I am certain, many ways in which patience can be defined, and perhaps more psychologically and scientifically-minded than what I am about to write.
It is my opinion that patience is the process by which one is able to repeatedly regulate his/her emotions in order to tolerate distressful situations. It is about allowing for an adaptive experience of the cycle of emotion. What exactly is the cycle of emotion? Well, it can be described as the stages/process that one goes through in order to manage his/her emotions. It might look like this:
Distressing emotion experienced leads to two choices:
Deny or Recognize:
Deny ->React ->Supress -> Escalate now or later -> Explode -> Dump ->Incomplete Resolution
Recognize -> Accept ->Release the energy by Expressing -> Clarifying -> Choosing an Action -> Resolution
(Taken from the Conflict Resolution Network site: http://www.crnhq.org)
So, how does this apply to patience? Well, patience is a choice. Right? Possibly, it would be developed during the stage/process of “Choosing an Action.” The action would be, if you are trying to develop patience, would be do nothing/wait. With every choice to simply do nothing/wait, one is developing patience.
Patience, in my opinion, is an extremely mindful practice. It involves an acknowledgement of one’s thoughts and labeling of one’s feelings in the moment. Thereafter, the goal would be to find an adaptive method of managing those feelings (e.g. deep breathing, taking a walk, talking to a friend) and reframing the thoughts, in order not to become reactive (which is just as good as saying “lose patience” in my world). It has been my experience that reactivity and impatience tend to go hand in hand. Thus, the less reactive one is, the more one is practicing patience.
I started this article discussing the fact that I used to engage in a great deal of waiting, especially during childhood. I went on to write that I became patient as an adult, having recognized the importance of the now, of the present. I suppose how I want to end is simply to state that I have learned the benefits of both being patient and of practicing the skill of waiting. And even though I may have my moments of anxiety, I am enjoying the process of patiently waiting for the future that draws nearer and nearer each day and becomes the present I am living.
Tomorrow is today as today is yesterday…
(Today is yesterday’s tomorrow)
“The past is behind, learn from it.
The future is ahead, prepare for it.
The present is here, live it.” – Thomas S. Monson
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
“…Now our lives are changing fast…
Hope that something pure can last…
We used to wait…”