Day 71- patience is a virtue

As an adjective, the word patient is ‘moral excellence’, however as a noun, it is a person receiving medical treatment. The concept of patience is somewhat elusive. How do you measure patience? I can sit quietly waiting for a plane, but if I see that little circle moving around and around at the top of my browser page, I want to head butt a wall. How much do I really practice patience? How much has patience evolved with us? Fifty years ago, people had to wait days, weeks, months, to receive written letters and postcards from our travelling loved ones. A hundred years ago, we had to wait weeks and months to travel to other continents. (‘Continence’ – the patience to wait until you reach the toilet.)

Patience is a virtue, we are told. I am not sure that virtue is the correct word. Virtue implies a moral characteristic or natural and innate quality. However I don’t believe patience is something one is born with. No baby I know of waits patiently to be fed. “But I want it noooowwwww!” seems like a truly reasonable argument to most toddlers; and many adults too. Watching Andrew eat is a prime example of someone lacking the patience to chew more than four times. How many times must we pop the toast out and check on it before it cooks? No, patience is not there already. Patience requires practice.

One my best friends, Ange, once told me that I was a “life-experience whore”, which probably sounds like an insult but is actually one of the most beautiful compliments anyone has ever given to me. I love life and I can truly say at the tender age of 25 that yes, I have lived. If life were food, I would eat like Andrew. If it were drink, I would skull! In a way, I rush through life, trying to get as much as I can out of every moment. If you could see how fast I was typing this, you would understand. However, I do know true patience. It has taken four years, since I last shaved my head, for my hair to grow this long, and I never once felt like I wanted to rush it. Not that it would have made a difference, but I waited patiently for it to grow back. I will be about to turn 30 when it is this long again!

I know that my patience comes from yoga. As I meditate, I remember the week after I shaved my head, when I found a flyer for a yoga and drumming retreat. I had been doing a little bit of yoga sporadically since I was 15, but it was this retreat, when I first met Nicole and Melanie from Body Mind Life, that made yoga a daily practice. They were both so serene and content. I remember thinking wow, they don’t look like they are rushing through life. I was definitely rushing through life up to that point. That was a life-changing moment in a very significant year. I learnt through the paradox of rushing around in traffic to make it to yoga on time. I learned that I can live more if I take a moment to step away from ‘life’ and go inside to something much more profound; a timeless space within that requires patience to find. When I open my eyes and step back into the ticking clock of life, time has truly slowed down. Yes, I can wait for my coffee to be ready. Yes, I can wait in traffic. Yes, I can wait to go to India, as excited as I am. And yes, I can wait for my hair to grow back (because I can definitely wait to turn 30).

Patience is not waiting. Patience is enjoying the moment because it will never happen again. Patience is wisdom. Patience is sitting outside and letting ants crawl all over my legs because I am in Bali and I am alive. It is a practice and it is a reward. Patience is yoga.

Patience is living.

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