There’s a lot to be said for patience. I’m like my father in that respect: neither of us has been blessed with patience, and both of us are stubborn. It’s taken me a long time to learn patience. If I expect it in others – to repeat themselves, to give me time, to wait – then I have to expect it in myself.
This week has been productive, because I have been patient with myself. I have given myself time, no matter how long it has taken, to start typing words. My biggest problem is becoming stressed and impatient, frustrated with myself for not having written more words, given more effort, put in more energy. Our lives are full of that impatience. Cities are full of it. Our hearts pound with it. Time races on, and we feel we have to keep up. Time runs ahead of me: I am constantly trying to find more of it, to hold on to it, dig holes within it. Every hour that goes by, I chastise myself for not doing more.
At this very moment, I’ve found a little pocket of time. I’ve made a little eddy leading out of the river, where I can sit for a moment and write. It’s not much. In fifteen minutes the sun goes down and my brain will naturally want to rest. With every day that goes by, I am learning my natural rhythms. For a long time, I have pushed against them. I’ve told myself that I’m a night owl, that I get things done at night. This hasn’t been as true this year, since I’ve been working to put my sleeping patterns to rights. I find that if I’ve written during the day, and expended that brain power, I’m less likely to have the energy during the evening to write. I tell myself that I will, that I will work a little more in the evening. Yet I am learning that this can’t happen, because the moment the sun goes down, my mind wants to switch off.
I love the night. I love the sense of possibility, the glittering stars, the luminous moon. In the past few years, I have sought the evening in which to write, but it hasn’t made me a prolific writer. What has made me into a prolific writer is showing up at my desk each day, whether I manage to write much or not. You could argue that I could do the same at night. I’ve discovered lately that I would rather read, watch a film, or spend time with my husband and family, than work in the evening hours. I don’t know if this makes me an early bird – waking up extremely early hasn’t quite clicked with me yet. Though I have been trying.
Patience, then, has been my companion so far this year. I began this year feeling that the two words I chose, action and abundance, would be my siren call towards a better way of living. To an extent, they have been. I have done more this year, for my career, creativity, and relationships, than I’ve done for a number of years. I have directed my energy towards gratitude and optimism, choosing to acknowledge that whilst the world is hurting, and we all suffer, we can still choose to hope and dream of a better tomorrow, whilst doing as much as we are able to make things better, in our own ways.
Yet patience has guided me in my creativity, by allowing me space to daydream, wander, think, breathe, and write. I show up at my desk, and I am calm, waiting, allowing my mind to drift, whilst keeping my goal in mind. Once I open my laptop or open my notebook to a new page, patience tells me that I can take my time, that nobody is forcing me to write a masterpiece, and that I have this moment, and the next, and the one after that. After two months of patience, I am making progress on my essays book, and the end is on the horizon.
‘Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson.