“Patience is a virtue
Possess it if you can,
Seldom found in woman
But never in a man”
My mam used to say that to me a lot when I was young. I never had a tolerance for delayed gratification, would do without rather than queue for things and was bad-tempered, angry or frustrated when things didn’t go according to plan. It probably stems from trust issues where I couldn’t rely on people or believe that things they promised would actually come about, a bit like my reaction to the Marshmallow Experiment that I wrote about in an earlier blog.
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to see the value of sitting still and letting the rest of the world spin round me. I see the beauty of blades of grass, leaves rustling in the breeze and water tinkling over stones. Where before I was always on my way to or from somewhere now I have time to appreciate the journeys in between, the people along the way and the pauses between the inhale and exhale of the breath of life.
I have just returned home after several days in hospital where the days were long and the nights even longer. All my time was spent on the ward waiting for doctors to visit, blood pressure to be taken and bloods to be drawn. I’m no stranger to hospitals so I know the score, accept the system and do as I’m told. But it can be mind-numbingly boring unless you have something to occupy your mind – a crossword puzzle, a good book, MP3 music. My bed was beside one of the huge windows that dominated the room and so I lay for hours watching the antics of the birds, clouds scudding across the sky, traffic in the distance and the way the light changed the whole scene. It was restful and helped me to draw on reserves of energy I need to get well.
This is the time of my life when everything that went before is starting to make sense. When all the rushing and pushing and fighting and weeping is distilled into meaning. When I’ve learnt that whatever happens, whatever I do or don’t do, it’s okay. It’s enough and I’m good enough. I don’t have to depend on the good opinion of others for my sense of self and it’s okay not to be perfect. You have no idea how liberating that is!
Getting older doesn’t mean my brain is slowing down, getting weaker or disappearing, it just means that I can take more time to think about something, that I only retain those facts/figures/memories that have meaning for me and I can choose to have different priorities now. I have a lot more patience these days with small children learning how to tie shoelaces, with elderly people crossing roads, with friends who tell me the same stories every time they see me. Life is suddenly so much sweeter when you have the patience to stop trying to fill it with ‘doings’ and make the most of each moment, wherever it finds you.