I am an impatient person disguised as a really patient person (because that’s how I would like to be all the time). Although I can easily give a pass to a crazy driver (it helps me to calm down by flipping him/her off well under the dashboard) or forgive an honest mistake, there are some things that, well—just pull the trigger for me. Such as this: when I want something done, I want it done right now. As you can imagine, this almost never happens.
The other morning I was making a pot of soup and needed some broth to thin it out. I called downstairs to the Crankee Yankee to ask him if he would please bring a can of it upstairs. I heard him say that he would.
As I was cleaning up the sink, the soup began bubbling. I turned it down and thought, ‘I could really use that broth now.’ But the Crankee Yankee was testing the new batteries for our smoke alarms and radon detector; I was glad he was taking care of this first; the broth could wait for the time being.
Meanwhile, the soup kept bubbling—and thickening. The Crankee Yankee often gets so focused on something that he forgets other things. However, I do the same thing when I am deeply involved. I have had whole days go by when I didn’t do three-quarters of what I swore I would do in one day.
So, on the excuse that I needed more paper towels upstairs, I walked downstairs and chatted with him while scanning the pantry shelves for broth. He said, ‘oh, shoot—I was going to bring that up to you.’
“Don’t worry about it,” I said, “I needed some paper towels so I’ll grab that can of broth while I’m down here.” But behold and lo; there was no canned broth.
I remembered then that I actually had some leftover chicken broth in the refrigerator, so I went back upstairs and added it to the soup. I congratulated myself on not getting all wound up over the broth situation. As I stirred the soup and enjoyed its wonderful earthy scent I thought about patience and what it does for us.
Patience smooths the ragged edges of things, including our thoughts. When we get so deeply mired in the “have-to-dos” and “must-dos” we may miss out on something important. What’s more important than getting everything on the daily list done? I, as a major slave of lists have discovered this truth: you really don’t have to get it all done in a day.
Of course, if you are an ER nurse and someone is bleeding profusely, yes; that needs to be seen to ASAP. We can name all sorts of emergencies and near-emergencies that demand our attention.
However, when I look at my daily to-do list, there are some things on it I know I can let go. Example: the other day we had some significant snow, so the Crankee Yankee and I worked inside the house on our various projects. I was beginning to get frustrated and bored with what I was doing, so I took a break.
And guess what happened? I saw—really and truly saw the stark and lovely symmetry of snow on bare black branches, the softly falling flakes, the pewter-gray of the clouds, and the mounds of marshmallow snow covering everything.
It was breath-taking. It made me stop, look and then listen to the soft whisper-y sound of falling snow. It was peaceful beyond imagining. What else might I have missed if I wasn’t so busy concentrating on ticking off the items on my list?
I realized then that my to-do list was actually making me more impatient; I was letting it take over my life. Honestly, it’s not all that important. I am pretty sure that, when I am on my death bed, I won’t be fretting about an item or two I didn’t attend to on my to-do list.
So here is my advice to you and me: each day, if we can, let’s take a short break (or longer) to look, listen and feel what miracle may be right in plain sight. All it takes is a bit of patience.