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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about patience.  About what it really means and why it is considered such a prized quality.  There’s even an old saying about it that we all know: “Patience is a Virtue.”  And, as we all want to be virtuous on some level, patience seems like a pretty good deal overall.  But, like any other virtue, I suppose, it is far from easy.

In today’s world the pace of life is so frenetic that anytime we have to stop and wait for something, be it a latte at Starbucks or for someone to pull out of a parking place we covet, it feels like wasted time.  We’ve developed an attitude that any time spent waiting in a line or similar activity is simply “hurry up and wait.”  I know I am guilty of this quite often, I suspect most others are as well.

Patience can be a fleeting thing, difficult to grasp.  It is all too easy to let anticipation, anger, frustration, or any other powerful emotion simply come on like a tidal wave and overcome the tiny ship of patience floating in our psyches.  Society has done such an admirable job of teaching us that we need to hurry up and that time is money and that wasting time is a sin.  Patience often seems like an indulgence we can ill afford.

Of late, I have been trying to cultivate my own personal patience.  I’ve been trying to achieve, as I have said before, a certain Zen-like quality.  But, try as I might it is a difficult task.  I think the hardest part for me is an unforseen pitfall: apathy.  It’s one thing to control your anticipation, control your lack of patience.  But, when there is an expectation for something to arrive, to occur, or simply to be and nothing happens that silence can be deafening.  It strains your hold on the calm of patience, but holding on through trials like this are important parts of becoming better people.  But, yawning before you as you turn your back on one group of negative emotions lies the trap of apathy.  How long do can patience hold out without becoming apathy?

My problem is that apathy and I are old friends.  Apathy is a warm blanket I can wrap myself in to shield me from the world.  I don’t want to become apathetic, but I feel myself slipping in some areas.  Apathy is a comfortable place because you feel so insulated.  How can you be hurt if you just don’t care?  The trick is to skirt the edge of that pit and not fall in.

So, I will continue to be patient.  I will continue to skirt the pit of apathy.  I will continue to control my negative emotions.  Perhaps one day it will pay off.

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