“I just don’t have the time.” When did you last say that to yourself? Last week, yesterday, earlier this morning?
Because we feel time is tight, life becomes a rush as we try to do many things at the same time. Even when we want something to change for the better – perhaps a relationship, our work or our community – we often rush into it with our eyes and minds closed, biting off more than we can chew. Instead of managing the change we are overwhelmed by it. The result? Lots of words and superficial actions, but no improvement.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds. But if today we explore more efficient methods of doing whatever we do; begin learning improved ways of coping; then at least we will be preparing ourselves for whatever comes our way.
Being prepared helps you cope with change, allowing you to respond to unforeseen events with minimum panic and with the determination to succeed.
The world is changing fast, but speed is not always what’s required, often we need to create the time and space to exercise wisdom. And these days wisdom needs the exercise in order to regain health and strength.
In this fast-paced world, who has the time to wait? There are some people who, if you tell them to be patient, respond as if you had insulted them. But patience is a valuable quality to develop.
A patient mind calmly awaits the unfolding of circumstances, and in that patience, acquires the knowledge and insight to handle situations more effectively. Then, rather than a knee jerk reaction, we act from a position of thought and vision, often leading to better outcomes.
On the other hand, impatience can be like trying to eat unripe fruit. It may satisfy your hunger for a few minutes, but then comes the upset stomach and… well, you know the rest.
Patience reminds us that the world does not revolve around us and our desires; we are part of something larger that has its own timing and flow. If we are patient, we observe the movement of life around us and get a better sense of the right moment to act.
Patience is not about doing nothing, but rather allowing time and space to get yourself together, so that when you do something, it really is something.
Many years ago I was doing some construction work in Barbados with an elderly carpenter from Trinidad by the name of Sumai.
I was using a handsaw to cut some wood, but just could not get a straight cut, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much muscle I put behind the saw. Sumai, who was a small man, took the saw out of my hand and, with what appeared to be no effort at all, cut the wood in a straight line faster than I could say “mahogany”.
He said that because I was a big fella, I probably figured I could use brute force to cut the wood. “Big mistake” he teased. “The saw is designed to do a particular job. Your role is simply to guide the saw along the line with a gentle rocking motion”. I tried it and was amazed. I realised that I had been fighting with the handsaw, preventing it from doing its job.
It was a valuable lesson and not just for woodwork, but all aspects of life. Instead of making use of situations and challenges, we often fight with ourselves and get in the way of our own progress. Sometimes we try so hard to stay on track that we cause a derailment.
Life provides many tools for building the pathways and bridges to all sorts of destinations; the challenge is in learning to use those tools as a craftsman would.
To feel that someone is blocking your destiny is one of the worst of all feelings. There are enough obstacles in the world that prevent people from fulfilling themselves, without adding to them by demanding that a partner give up his or her plans for the sake of a relationship. Such demands often backfire and weaken the emotional ties between the two partners.
Even if it seems threatening at first, helping a partner grow and find himself or herself makes a relationship stronger. In time the partners will seem less dependent and less possessive. They remain together because they want to be together. Although they have the freedom each day to stay or to leave, they choose to stay and grow together. It’s a choice they make every day, consciously or otherwise.
My wife once put it this way – The strongest relationship is the one between two people who see each other as midwives to the persons they wish to become.