sometimes, my head explodes

the weight of waiting January 30, 2008

Filed under: about me,philosophical muse — somniare @ 10:59 am

I’m beginning to see my writing to be a lot like a weather vane. My thoughts like charged atoms vibrating wildly as clouds gather at the horizon. They sense the involuntary repression brought by inclement times. Perhaps they are feeding from the sun which I’ve recently let in. Sometimes I wonder if my willingness to peel back the skin a little and expose some raw pieces of self only invite the light to burn and speed up the merciless storms in the distance. Of course, it could be that I can think more openly and write with the freedom of my unfocused mind when I step down from my dedicated sentry position and take the time to acknowledge the existence of peripheral vision. It isn’t easy to take a break from standing guard.

On that note, I’m going to tackle one of the many recurrent subjects I’ve been encountering lately while I am still at ground level and out of the watchtower.

It gets told to me every day by at least one person that I am one of the most patient people they’ve ever encountered. I never really thought about it up until recently, but it’s showing up around every corner like it’s something I should take the time to wrap my mind around. Ironically, when it comes to silly things, I don’t have an ounce of it. I can’t stand to wait at a stop light or know that someone has a surprise that they won’t reveal. There are multiple times I find myself swallowing my all encompassing rage as I’m forced to sit through something I find boring, annoying, or completely repulsive. I honestly hate having to wait for anything that I can possibly define as insignificant to my life as a whole.

Interestingly enough, you’d think those things mentioned would confuse a lot of people into thinking, “Gosh, that girl has no patience at all!” As it turns out though, patience has a much deeper meaning than the willingness to wait. A lot of it is in the presentation. Take my job for example. Do you really think I want to sit and take a half hour out of my extremely hectic schedule to get the world’s oldest living relic into the bathroom. No, of course not! But it’s not in me to make someone who is sick in the hospital feel like a burden to me when I have chosen a career specifically geared to healing and helping those in need. I put a smile on my face and gently guide them, all the while assuring them that I am most certainly NOT busy and I have more than enough time to help them. Why do they insist I must have immense amounts of patience? Because no one else seems to. Rush rush rush… dragging these people around like rag dolls and scowling in a way that says, “You’re no more important than the rest so move your damned ass!” I’m no saint, that thought crosses my mind every day. That’s the reality of being a patient though. Many are equal in neediness and there is bound to be at least a few in more dire need than the archaic shell of a person I may find myself moving in slow motion beside at any given moment. What is the sense in creating such apprehension in a sick person who needs you that they feel it necessary to start every sentence with, “I know you’re busy but…”

Patience runs deeper than the appearance on the surface as well. Most everyone has the friends that seem to call non-stop in need of support for problems so consistently that you wonder if they have ever seen a bright day in their lives. My patience goes beyond the constant pillar I become to those who mean something to me. I’ve been known to spend hours counseling complete strangers on their deepest issues. I stick around as a support until I’ve served my purpose and then I stand back and disappear. I do this regularly. People find me out of nowhere just to open up their pandora’s box to someone who will listen. Yes it requires an epic amount of patience to dedicate such large amounts of time to complete strangers.

These days, true patience is not only a commodity among the masses, it’s become something unrecognizable and unappreciated. The world is comprised of takers and givers… without tolerance, you can never be anything more than a taker. I do wonder if such a virtue will run dry in me. Will there come a point when I get sick of others getting frustrated with me or never taking the time to see past their own world of various dramas to notice that I exist as something other than a pocket psychiatrist. Have I crafted my own destiny of loneliness out of a desire to be needed? Patience does not bring happiness. Being needed for support purposes is not the same as being needed for everything I can offer as a person just existing.

There are so many things patience is mistaken for: generosity, openheartedness, selflessness… these just being a few examples. I may have aspects of each of those but I harbor their antonyms equally. While that may be a fact, I still have both feet firmly planted on the ground when it comes to matters requiring steadfastness. When no one else has been there, most people can say that I was. I stuck it out. I am proud of myself for that because I feel like I can mean something just using a natural born part of my personality. Where it leaves me thinking is when I wonder if that is what I am truly seeking in someone to share my life with.

There are no viable consequences that I can manifest about bringing two people together with immense amounts of sufferance. The challenge would come in when one person possesses the quality and the other one can’t see it and spends the greater portion of time chipping at the walls of fortitude. It may be necessary to have a giver and a taker in order to keep a balance, but as I pointed out, you can’t be a giver without patience and having two takers in a relationship is a recipe for failure. Eventually the surplus will run dry and the relationship will shrivel.

I’m getting old. I find that it is impossible to find an intelligent and worthwhile companion who retains the virtue of patience in the midst of rebuilding life in the post-apocalypse of failed relationships. In that light, the real question comes in. Can patience be learned? Can it be taught? Can it be absorbed from another? Perhaps my only hope will be to subliminally infuse it into my other. If I can’t, I will find myself waiting for someone who couldn’t bear the weight of waiting.


One Response to “the weight of waiting”

  1. Jon Says:

    I think patience can be shown, but only truly learned through experience. Lead that horse to water. If he’s got half a lick of sense he’ll know what’s good for him and drink. If not, well, that’s not a horse who’ll bear you across the desert, is it?

    I’ve always been told the same thing about being patient. But of course, I never feel patient. An old friend might think, “Gosh he’s patient listening to me like this,” while I’m sitting there thinking, “Dude we’ve got nothing in common anymore and you know how to solve your problems so why are we here again?” And I’ve said that straight up in slightly friendlier language but still there we are again. I don’t consider that patience. It’s more like, understanding who’s in greater need at any given moment. Like with your work. You know the immobile old man needs to feel like he’s not a burden, or else his spirit will just, what, crack. (It can’t take much to send a person in their place into despair, can it?) Someone else down the hall needs help too but a few extra minutes will only cause them discomfort or pain, not a broken spirit. And maybe you’ve got things to do for yourself but it’s the same, just some inconvenience.

    That’s understanding need. Patience at a stoplight or, say, for me, waiting for a piece of mail from home, is a lot more abstract. Your need to not be held up a minute at the light seems silly, but it still holds a lot of clout because it gets weighed against the need of society for traffic laws to keep it safe. That’s a fairly nebulous concept right there in the moment. And like, waiting for a letter, there’s no choice but to be inconvenienced. My need to get it stops flat against the necessity of time in covering distance. The need of physics, maybe.

    In this case being patient with something doesn’t mean being pleased with it. Hell, it must be that in every case. I’m not pleased to spend an hour consoling a friend who’s lying in the bed he made. I’m not pleased, but I’m glad to know he’ll feel better and maybe take my advice to heart and do better for himself. Maybe he won’t. If he doesn’t next time I’ll say you got yourself into it, I warned you, so you get yourself out. But that’s digressing. What I’m coming to is that people must think patience is supposed to be happy. They’re actually being patient but because they’re suffering through a wait instead of enjoying it, they guilt themselves into thinking it’s not patience. They see your presentation and think you must be enjoying it. You must be experiencing true patience.

    (I happen to think there is such a thing, a real pinnacle of altruistic patience. Radiant acquiescence to suffering for the benefit of others. I might even have achieved it once or twice, fleetingly. It was lovely. Something to shoot for, but not the only kind of patience.)

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