Saturday, January 8, 2011


If you ever want to make me angry, look at me with serenity on your face, and gently suggest to me, "Patience is a virtue."

I know that patience is a virtue. I know that delaying gratification is one of the mystical habits which studies suggest indicate prodigious emotional intellect and capacity. I once read a study in which 4 year olds were asked to wait 20 minutes to eat a marshmallow and promised a 2nd marshmallow after the 20 minutes. The children who could wait the 20 minutes were found to be more successful and dependable as adults. I suspect they were just the kids who didn't really like marshmallows.

I know that anything is sweeter if you wait for it.

None of this makes me feel better when I want something now that I can't have til later!

We waited for more than a week for dry enough ground to pour footings for the house. And yet, a drizzle here, a rain there do not a dry ground make. In tomato season I will be longing for this rain. In concrete pouring season, I despise it.

"I AM SO READY!", I lamented, throwing myself onto my parents couch today.
"Well, " the Professor began, putting on the very logical and zen-like Confucius face which has led my kid to secretly refer to his Papa as Spock, "houses are not like mushrooms. You can't just lay out some BS and sprinkle it with water...and BAM! grow a house!"

Cocking an eyebrow at our resident Voice of Reason I think "That's too bad. There's plenty of BS and water around here." (If you're familiar with the standard progression of scholastic degrees bestowed within the American college system you can even read dad's M.O. right there after his begins B.S., continues M.S. as in "More of the Same" and finally the illustrious "Ph.D." which I have been told stands for "Piled Higher and deeper".) If houses were like mushrooms dad could be a real estate magnate of the highest level.

I've never been one to wait. I seem to have been born ready. I got teeth early, spoke early, read early. I developed teen angst well before I was a pre-teen, married well before the culturally acceptable age range, and was a mom and divorced before most of my peers had settled into their first serious relationships.
One of the lessons I suppose I am meant to learn in this home building season of my life is that some things cannot be rushed. Just like I am unable to rush the healing taking place in my shoulder right now, I cannot speed the conditions required for some phases of building.

If you had anyone in your life like my dad you are familiar with the voice which, in situations such as this, chimes in to ask "What can we learn from this?" Ever the Professor, he would ask this after broken bones had been set or fires extinguished or while one of us sat anguishing over one of life's many disappointments, thereby instilling in us...perhaps not an affection for this question...but a tendency to hear it in our minds at moments Doc would say it were he within ear shot.

I don't know what to learn from this. A million cliches come to mind. "Anything worth doing is worth doing right." "Anything worth having is worth waiting for." "A master of patience is a master of everything else."

The snail's pace at which we are proceeding does very little to silent the internal Veruca Salt that most of us have inside if we're honest with ourselves. She may have wanted an Oompa Loompa and parties and boats and treats from Willie Wonka but I am certain everyone within 20 years of my own age living in the western world has the over-indulged child's tendency toward "I WANT IT NOW!!!" within them. We don't have to wait for things the way the generations before us did or people in 3rd world nations do. If we tire of saving up for something, we get a new credit card, if it's not supper time we grab a snack to hold us over, we watch pirated movies rather than waiting for them to come out, we find out the gender of babies before they emerge from their 9 months hidden from our sights and we email Amazon in a fury if our orders take more than the 3-5 days to arrive on our doorsteps. We don't want to wait in lines so we buy movie tickets online, renew drivers licenses instantly from home, microwave a whole meal in minutes, we even fight for passes that put us first in line at Disney World! Did you know there are even businesses in big cities which rent out proxies who will wait in line for you at events, restaurants, anywhere you would find it hard to be patient? Patience may be a virtue...but it's certainly an endangered one.

Always one to cheer for the underdog, I find myself sorry to see patience going out of vogue. Perhaps it's the rebellious streak in me which wants to rale against any direction society seems to be heading which might just be the path to our own destruction. In peaceful protest to the near-global epidemic of impatience...I am determining now to savor the delay.
Afterall, everyday longer that it takes to build my house is another day to make the important decisions regarding its interior. I have chosen floors and doors and hinges and knobs but God help me when it's time to paint! At least, that is the silver lining I am trying to see in this stormcloud. Some moments I am almost convinced.

Since deciding to practice patience in the process, quite a lot has been accomplished. I may have gritted my teeth to nubs upon reading the weather forecasts but we also got water lines laid (with only one fracture to the water main resulting in a deluge which would have sent Noah hopping), cleared the last of the trees from the house lot and milled many trees into perfect piles of lumber, flooring, and siding (with only one possibly broken foot for Dad).

I can clearly hear my dad calmly encouraging, "Surely you can see the progress we are making!" but even more clearly I can hear myself stamping my foot and shouting "NO, I CAN'T! AND DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY!"
Apparently, patience it a discipline which takes time. Kind of funny when you think about it.

1 comment:

  1. The completion will be sweet success! It will come soon enough. Little bits at a time. Think I am going to use that PhD thing with my own father!