on patience


The last few weeks have been a genuine hell’s-rollercoaster-ride for me; there have been work concerns over trying to get my consulting colleagues all fully employed again, personal challenges with new social acquaintances, volunteer-time demands that started small and grew massively and far too quickly, and, most pointedly, a friend on my mind who is desperately ill and pretty much alone in the world right now, several hundred miles away from where I live.

I feel “NO patience” too often.  In EITHER direction.
Any time I have a sense of finally getting and keeping a semblance of a grip on things, something new gets added to my list; when I drop the ball, I hear disappointment and frustration and even anger coming back at me at a time when I don’t have a lot of ability to cope with those sorts of dissatisfaction.

I have had moments these last days where minor acts of impoliteness by a driver in front of me have left me watching myself in an out-of-body experience unleash a torrent of vituperation and anger SO virulent that it is a wonder the windshield glass did not melt.

I have been on the receiving end of act after act of personal selfishness by people who have no clue that their behavior is both unacceptable and greedy (whining about how my gender is always so inconsiderate or how sad their lives are) … things that would have rolled off my back any other time — but this week isn’t that time.

I have railed at the sky about the pain my friend is in and desperately wanted to be of more use than I am right now.  I have heard myself saying out loud to the walls,
“God, I don’t feel you anymore.  AT ALL.
And that ‘no burden too great’ rap you’re selling is utter bullshit.”

But, ultimately, some things have pulled me back.

The people who have (mostly unknowingly) put extra demands on my volunteer time have also been (consistently) extra wonderful.  Virtually every one of them has noticed that I’m not the same person I usually am, complimented my efforts on their behalf, and asked if everything is okay because they know me well enough to already know the answer — I am by no stretch of the imagination a good poker-player — and when that project is complete, it Will Be Off My Plate For Good.

The confidants who have watched the selfish-ones do their worst
see my confusion and have advised me to
Ditch Those Bloodsuckers After The First Time They Diss You and Not The Third;
You Deserve Better.

The insensitive louts who have delayed a hiring decision for my colleague and friend who is starting to panic will, eventually, come through with a job for him.  It has taken a lot of time to grasp that the behavior of the HR and legal departments of most corporations is not malevolent, just professionally impolite by definition.  (I am fond of a throwaway line from a Tom Clancy novel that applies here to my broad feelings for HR and legal departments: two characters are discussing the myriad ethical shortcomings of journalists (instead of HR managers or lawyers), and one says, “You can’t hate a dog for urinating on a fire hydrant; he’s just being a dog” … )

My friends have leaned-in to help me by taking up my work responsibilities while I travel to help my sick friend,  and they have also become my caregivers, checking in on me to make sure that my tank isn’t empty — but more importantly, the neighbors there at the other end rallied to do everything and anything needed until more help arrived … and then told me once I got there, “don’t worry, we’re still here to help YOU help our friend now”.  I have witnessed unselfishness and grace and love without bounds on a scale so grand that I am humbled to my core.

Finding patience (when it seems like it’s in short supply)
sometimes means opening your eyes wide enough
to take in everybody who’s around you.