“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I think about writing and life and growing older, my mind turns to patience: the idea of patience, of what it means to be patient, to the virtues of patience. Really? Is patience a virtue? Or is that what we tell ourselves while we (actively) wait for something great to happen, for our lives to bloom, for success to finally find us in our most withering moments?
“He that can have Patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin
As a small child, I had a cat named Patience. I named her myself. I don’t know that I even understood the concept of patience at three or four years old but I understood Patience as she sat by the fire-pit in the backyard waiting for rats to skulk in from the field; waited for me to join her each evening, finding my place beside her as I sat down to wait for my father to come home from work. We sat there together by the ring of ashes as the sun went down, my face and hands, more often than not, dirty with the play of the day, and her face and paws torn and scarred from battles new and old. Patience was my one, true childhood friend. From Patience, I learned patience.
“Patience is the art of hoping.” Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues (died at 31, famous for his aphorisms and his friendship with Voltaire)
and “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” (George Iles)
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
I can see that. I have my own on-again-off-again relationship with time as it slithers away fast as a snake or drags on while I wait and hope for good things to come. Patience can only be a by-product of waiting, of finally coming to realize that pacing and fretting and stressing does absolutely no good at all, that finding a balance of calm and acceptance is the only sane answer to the twists and turns of life.
We can only be patient with what happens for us– and I mean for us rather than to us. I believe the Universe acts for us and it is our response to getting what we ask for that puts us in victim mode, thinking that life happens to us. (That’s just my humble opinion.)
“Patience is passion tamed.” Lyman Abbott
. . . with a whip and a chair.
“Patience, n. A minor form of dispair (sic), disquised as a virtue.” Ambrose Bierce
I think this is my favorite. It sometimes feels like it all comes down to this, despair disguised as patience. We have our moments, all of us, when having tamed our passion we slip into despair of ever having what it is we want most in life. But rather than wallow in it, we let the frustration turn to something good and deep, belief in ourselves, in our dreams, in the value of our lives, and find from the wells of hope and fortitude within us the one thing that will help us overcome: patience.
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” St. Augustine.
And wisdom is, I hope, what we get as the result of a lifetime of sucking it up and making lemonade.
Just for Fun!
So, you’re chugging along on an old weathered but familiar track when suddenly nature happens. Beauty or impediment? Now what?