In my last post, I wrote about 5 tactics for dealing with the world when everything seems to be running less than optimally, when everything is clamoring for attention. I mentioned in that post that my family is dealing with some short-term health issues – and now, four days later, we still are. Even though it’s not of course anything that anyone can be blamed for, certainly not my suffering wife, I found myself this morning to be a little impatient.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply concerned for my wife alongside my absolute positive belief that all will be well. I love all the extra time with my son, and I don’t miss the professional work I didn’t do at all (sorry, colleagues and clients). I had a few pangs of loss missing my meditations, my reading, and writing here on this blog – but that’s about the extent of it. Since my wife is now showing visible progress in the slow painful hike back up the hill to health, there’s a hell of a lot for me to be grateful for. But just like the dreams of easy financial abundance that sometimes still come to me in the night, irritability crept up this morning when I couldn’t take time to center myself before I was called into action. It took me a good hour to witness my ego in the rumblings and realize my failure.
Having unintentionally stumbled over the curb, I found myself wondering just where that intersection of happy Patience Street and gloomy Waiting Boulevard was?
Waiting Boulevard, Main Street of the Town of Rut
We can spend our entire lives waiting. That’s not some great secret of existence; just look around, and you’ll see – almost everybody is waiting. Waiting for the right time, waiting for the ace card, waiting for retirement, waiting for the seeds they planted to come to harvest. Ultimately, waiting for happiness. Look within, and you’ll probably find it there too. No matter how much we meditate, practice mindfulness, or pray – there’s the big wait behind almost every face. In the worst case, when all the dreams have died and the candles of spirit are smothered, people start to wait to die.
One of the great realizations I’ve had in my life so far was that I am one of those people. And unlike some pot-luck book of positivity you might get awarded, I won’t say that once you wake up from that it’s as simple as getting out of the Matrix. You don’t just get out and acquire the ability to cross the board of living and waiting at will. The world of waiting is the Town of Rut, and it calls you back in again and again. Routine will consume you and make you unconscious again and again, and I can’t say that there’s ever final victory of it.
And that’s just like any of the great addictions that can destroy us (like alcohol or self-improvement). I’ve had a few, and I still have others. Once the demons get their hooks into you, your mind has a framework that can be reactivated easily. Just start up an old bad habit if you don’t believe me – you’ll wake up months later, perhaps metaphorically and perhaps literally, in the gutter. The old juices just lay dormant in every recoverer. There’s no final healing that allows you to go back into whatever claimed you, just reprogramming to avoid the old triggers and stay away from it. That’s not depressing – that’s beautiful. Recovery is possible, both from addictions and the dreaded Rut. Just a matter of cues and keeping out of the deep end.
The gloomy Waiting Boulevard is a dark path of unconscious living. It’s the path of addiction for sure, but it’s also the path of the masses who buy into the false dreams and structure mapped out for us by corporations, governments, and schools. It’s the great lie of 2.5 children, the white picket fence, and the house in the suburbs. Average life that we only aspire to when we can imagine nothing better, average life that we only desire when we remain asleep. Not a life of happiness, but a life of undisturbed routine.
Patience Street Heads Out of Town
This unhappy living in the future or the past gives waiting a bad rep. On the other hand, though, the virtue of patience is heavily expounded in every self-help corner and by every semi-spiritual mouth that stands on it. Bide our time, plant our seeds and the harvest will come. Don’t rush health, don’t rush recovery, don’t rush at all. When it comes to dealing with uncomfortable situations or unhappy circumstances, they are opportunities to practice patience. This too shall pass.
That’s all great, but it’s simply crap when you’re heading to the emergency room with a loved one. We don’t need patience in the traditional sense then, we need patience redefined as mindfulness. Focusing on your breath helps you get out of a panic state and deal with situations. Paying attention to everything that’s going on around you is key to getting through things like that. But don’t rush? Get out of here with that, and get out of my damn way on the road. Pedal to the metal, time is of the essence.
But that’s a question of application. People also rush on their way to work, not just on their way to hospital. Just like alcoholics also speed down the road when they’re in the bottle. The Town of Rut has an entirely different sense of urgency than the real world. And you don’t even realize it when you’re that guy, because you’re living unconsciously. You pick up a cue, and the old habits drive you into a frenzied framework that perversely awards your ego while driving you deeper into sleep.
So where’s Patience Street? It’s a well-lit road of entirely conscious people practicing mindfulness right now. The people who have decided that they aren’t going to wait for things but then don’t give over their minds to those things they’re headed for. People who stay awake after choosing a destination, who aren’t just meat husks on automatic pilot down the highway. People who, more and more frequently, travel in a state of expanded awareness. Sometimes you’ve got to drive like a madman down Patience Street. As counter-intuitive as it seems, if you’re mindful while you’re rushing – you’re still patient.
Take A Turn At The Intersection
I woke up today in an unconscious state, I woke up today in the Town of Rut. Sometimes I forget that people meditate in the Town of Rut, and they also work up creative and wonderful things. If that’s the framework of habit and award in their neighborhood, they do that and a ton of more wonderful, unhappy stuff for their ego. I was irritable because I felt myself failing in the my own made-up expectations for myself, and I didn’t think about it at first because I was, in truth, still asleep. I was waiting without patience, I was not choosing to fail on purpose.
Once I woke up, I became a much better father and husband. I became happy again, with lightning speed as I turned off Waiting Boulevard into Patience Street. I cleaned up special messes left by the dogs in the living room (thanks, puppies), practiced home surgery (don’t ask), spoke sternly to my son in his tantrum (while secretly amused), and listened with forbearance to someone who stopped by talking from a place of self-justification. And I don’t say that because I’m proud of myself – well, perhaps a little considering how I started. But mostly because I was smiling most of the time.
And now? Well, I’m writing this post, clearly. Unexpectedly, somehow, it worked out that I could after I gave up wanting to. And that too is a defining difference between waiting and patience.
Thanks for reading and please drive safely,
You may also enjoy:
- 5 Tactics When Everything Needs Attention – programminglife.net
- The Limits of Self Improvement – programminglife.net
- 5 Aspects of Awareness & Why They Matter – programminglife.net
- The Real Truth About Change – thechangeblog.com
- Why I Stopped Searching for Happiness – thechangeblog.com
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