Sunday, July 14, 2013

Be patient

Dear friend,

It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it? Waiting.

You stand there, dressed in your pencil skirt or coat and tie, holding your briefcase or resume, ready to take on your destiny and guess what? It got caught in traffic. You’re determined though. I mean, you ironed your shirt for crying out loud. You gelled your hair. You’re wearing heels. You are not going to give up that easily. 

You eye your imagined clock—trying to stare it into submission. Maybe if you concentrate hard enough the answer will arrive in your fireplace out of thin air like Harry Potter. Maybe you’ll pull a Matilda, squint your eyes, and POOF, something magical will happen.

Nothing happens.

“I can be useful!” you elbow life. Look, I can dress the part, act the part. I have the honors, the internships, the work experience, the GPA. I can wear business casual (emphasis on casual), tuck in my shirt, get to work early, do a cartwheel. Tell me what you want and I’ll do it.

Nothing happens.

I mean, your twenty-three years old. You need to have your entire life figured out. You need to impress parents and peers and future employers. You need to take on the world, show everyone that you’re a fully-functioning almost adult that buys organic food, puts the toilet paper on the right way, folds her laundry, separates paper and plastic, showers occasionally.

But right now, nothing seems to be happening. Not at your pace. Not the way you want it to. It doesn’t fit into your cardboard cutout of how you want your life to go, and you’re impatient. There's no time to waste time. You’re so busy focusing on this that the other change and growth and beauty going on in life threatens to slip away unnoticed.

That’s failure—allowing the beauty in life to slip away unnoticed. Happiness is disguised in nice clothing, a confident smirk, your pristine resume and other so-called evidence of success. And while all of that is well and good, you've mixed things up. You've forgotten to live in spite of not having a schedule, itinerary or game plan. Those aren't life. They're tools to help you through it, or organize it, or maximize it. Don't confuse them for life itself. 

Stuff is happening. 

Wonderful, beautiful stuff. Like friends getting jobs, taking marriage vows, moving across the country, going on retreats, traveling the world, starting graduate school, having babies, or just waking up every day in spite of pain and hardship and living. Life is going on, even though you may have no idea what you’re doing.  It's not all about you and your plan. And that is also a beautiful, beautiful thing.

As I washed my face the other day, then a guest in a house I used to call home, I looked next to the sink to find a small paper with these words: “Good things come to those who wait. Be patient.”

Patience is my word right now. Not my favorite of all time, but I’ve been learning to tango with it slowly and gracefully: with lots of eye-rolls and sighs. 

I heard someone say recently that this is a time when we don’t see a lot of miraculous things. I think it’s because we’re not looking.

Keep waiting, friend. And start looking.

All the best,