The Downside of Enlightenment

I told Sara I would post an old column I wrote about the zen of laundry.  Couldn’t find it (must have written it on the previous computer so it is on a disk somewhere, gathering dust–like the rest of my laundry.  Instead, I found this one from July 06.  I liked the reminder well enough to reprise it.  Oh, I wish I was as wise as my writing self.

“I wish I could be more patient,” I heard myself say to myself as I wheeled the garbage out to the street.
I don’t remember (even though it was less than an hour ago) what I was being impatient about. I hadn’t yet seen anyone to be impatient with: the girls were all asleep; my husband was out of town; no one had phoned; and I hadn’t checked either my personal or my work email yet. What could I possibly be impatient about?

But it was exactly what I needed, to hear myself say that and ponder over the ridiculousness and audacity of that simple little “wish.” I might as well wish for a hybrid Honda as for a sliver of patience, I thought, as I slid by my gas-guzzling minivan.

But it wasn’t an impatient thought, it was a gentle one.

It was the quiet voice which, when I give it the opportunity to be heard, usually offers some wise stuff to ponder.

Might as well wish for a hybrid, you silly woman, and a landscaper to come clean up the yard and a contractor to finish the basement and someone to wash those mounds of laundry you keep accumulating as if they were piles of cash.

But of course, I started to rant and rave impatiently, drowning out that small, quiet voice which was trying, patiently, to bend me back toward patience.

Good luck with that, small voice.

And what will bend me toward patience, I asked myself, trying to stop the rant long enough to feel the irritation that rode through me like a jagged, electrical current. This, I thought, this: feeling it; thinking it through; and understanding that the irritation is mine—and mine alone. It may start with someone else’s actions, but once it enters me, it is my electrical current and I can decide whether I want to continue to amp it up with no real outlet, or whether I want to direct that energy toward something.

So far, I’ve been bottling it up, and I can feel myself getting to a place where someone may actually need to yell “Thar she blows!”  But I haven’t exploded–yet.

For some reason, the current in my head shushed long enough this morning for me to hear that still, small voice that is the pressure valve (I know, I’m mixing analogies here, but bear with me or I may truly explode).
In the flash of a second as I wheeled that garbage can this morning I realized I always have the choice of being patient or impatient, of being kind or unkind, whenever I wish—or, I should say whenever I wish to act patient or impatient.

It isn’t a matter of my chemical make-up nor of reserves of patience kept by those we consider to be saintly.
Patience, I realized, is simply there, waiting (patiently, I might add) for me to practice it.

And, if I think about it, the Honda Hybrid, the landscaped yard, the finished basement, and even the clean laundry, they are all there, too. I just have to do the work for those, too.

Which is, of course, the downside (and the upside) of enlightenment.

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About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at www.tinalbporter.com. And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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2 Responses to The Downside of Enlightenment

  1. Sara says:

    Thank you for posting this. This is exactly what I feel like I need to work on, and this is a very timely reminder.

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  2. mskitty says:

    What a marvelous statement of something we all struggle with, Momma. I find myself irritatingly impatient too, mentally shouting at those who annoy me by their slowness to move or to understand or to—whatever. And these are people I love, many times. “What is wrong with me?” I yell at myself. I could stand to be more patient with myself as well. A spiritual director I see occasionally reminded me to have compassion for myself. I’m trying.

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