The Hardest Part

I’m generally a patient person, but there are certain kinds of waiting I hate.

I really dislike “active waiting,” where waiting is the only thing I can do. For instance, if I order something and it’s going to take a week to arrive at my house, that’s totally fine, because I can just live my life during that week. But waiting in line for something, where I have to just stand there until it’s my turn? Argh. Give me a deli-style “take a number” system any day.

I was thinking about waiting today because there are certain goals you can actively pursue and certain goals that simply take time, and can’t be rushed by additional action. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.

For instance, you can’t build a meaningful relationship with someone – a friend, a family member, a romantic partner – any faster by doing it harder. Bonds are built over time. I can’t raise my children into competent and heroic adults any faster by trying to jam their days over-full of lessons and trials. They just have to grow.

You can work in your garden all you like, but at a certain point you just have to accept that you can’t make a tomato plant grow any faster than it wants to. You can help it be healthier, you can make it safe. But it gives you a tomato when it wants to.

I love goals that can be accelerated by action, but not every goal is like that. In fact, very few are! It’s a rare treat to get an attainable goal that’s entirely dependent on you and no outside factors. Meaningful patience is a challenge, but getting good at it is utterly rewarding.

Gratitude and patience are inexorably intertwined. If you are grateful for the movement, your goals become less about the end and more about the rewards of pursuit. If you are grateful for your children as the wonderful humans they are, then you don’t have to be constantly waiting for the next milestone you can brag about or celebrate. Instead of being impatient that your workouts haven’t yet yielded every result you want, be so so grateful that you have the health to even lift those weights or take those steps. Notice a few breaths each day, happy that they’re pulling you forward.

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