There is a quote from Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice where the mother (Mrs. Bennet) is speaking to her unassuming daughter. The mother was annoyed at the non-urgent nature her daughter possessed and said, “You are is unconcerned as maybe!” I love that! It is so completely on-target with my feelings of the world around me sometimes. It is like everyone else is in a totally different time zone (most-likely the twilight zone). They view life with a certain nonchalant air and indifference. Typically, the way other people choose to use their time doesn’t bother me, because it rarely affects me. However, there are some times that the pace at which another person chooses to live their life does affect me … because it slows me down.
I do not pretend to think that my fast-forward, constant-sprint way of living is the right way. In fact, there are many times that I think slowing down would benefit me greatly, but those thoughts are quickly shoved out of my head by the next practice, work expectation, or chore to do. Idleness is so much not a part of my vocabulary, that when I do watch a movie or read a book just because, I find myself hinting toward internal melancholy. Again, this isn’t a trait I necessarily love about myself or my life, it is rather an observation. That being so, I find that I have little patience for things that I realize could be done much quicker than they are.
Slow talkers, bad listeners (who elicit a repetition of what I just said), and people with the general air of, “I’ll get around to it,” tend to annoy me just a bit (okay, more than a bit). Though I am not self-important enough to think that what I say needs to be heard or done, I generally don’t speak or ask anything of anyone who shouldn’t be listening to me! My husband, children, and students, fall into this category. And I guess, when I make a request, I am still naive enough to think it will be done! Take our blankets for example – at night when were watching a movie or reading to the kids, we tend to pull out our get-comfy blankets that soon sprawl across our living room. Somehow, regardless of the amount of time I request for them to be folded before bed, those blankets are still out in the morning. Of course mine is put away, because I asked myself to do it, and I always try to listen to me! My family however, does not share this urgency.
My daughter I must exclude from this. She is a great listener and does things exactly when I ask her to. I think I have mentioned that my daughter makes no great haste however, in any decision. She eats slowly, she walks slowly, she even plays and sings slowly. She truly believes she has all the time in the world, and to her five-year-old credit, she does! And I am happy for her. I think I actually even envy her a little bit for her ability to do things the right way. I wish I could adopt just a little of her patient nature, because I know she has a lot to teach me.
It would have been really convenient to have a smidge of her personality earlier this month when I was at the store. I was buying a gift for a friend, and of course didn’t have more than 10 minutes to do it. The minutes didn’t matter initially, because I knew exactly what I wanted and made my way to the checkout very quickly. This is where things slowed. I want you to imagine for a moment that a zombie was given a morphine drip. Now in that very dazed state, imagine that said zombie, also had OCD tendencies of preciseness. In reality, all the cashier had to do was wrap up one Pandora bead and put it in a bag. ONE! In my world, this is a task that would take a whole whopping thirty-seconds – not so for her. This girl meticulously took out four pieces of square tissue paper. Two pieces, she folded into perfect triangles, folded them again, and set them aside. Three minutes later, she folded the remaining two into smaller squares, which she also set aside. Then, she took out a bag … and then a tinier bag. She put the bead in a small piece of crimson paper and rolled it until it was a tight knot, folding it on both sides and placing it into the tiny bag followed by the two squares.
If I have lost you by now, because you are so dreadfully bored you have dozed off, you can only imagine how I felt. I’d love to say it was over then, but you are not that lucky, and neither was I, so the story drags on. The woman then routed around in a small box (like a nesting squirrel) with emblem stickers to put on the outside of the bag. After finding the perfect one (though they were identical to me), she put the tiny bag inside the bigger bag and placed the two triangular tissue papers inside as well. Halfway through the process I had a violent urged to snatch the bags and tissue from her and make a mad-dash for the door. I almost didn’t care if I was stealing at that point because I was sure that jumping over the counter to shake her awake would have had worse ramifications than taking one bead. I was beginning to develop a nervous tick that simultaneously twitched with the second hand of the clock and I was about to lose it. It was either go postal, or take up residence in a corner of the shop, nap on the floor, and tell her to wake me when she was finally finished. Thanks be only to God (as there was some definite divine intervention going on here) I held my tongue, clasped my hands and clenched my jaw and thought of my patient little five-year-old and what she would do. All in all, I think I have about five new gray hairs from the experience. Two are from the stress of watching something that should have been so quick take so long to do. The other three literally formed because I stood for such an extended period of time that I might as well now be a grandmother.
All joking aside, I do think that some lessons in patience are warranted. Experiences like the one with the bead-wrapper should not toss me into a frenzy like they sometimes do. Maybe if I took care to do things just a little bit slower, I’d be less likely to make mistakes. Maybe I’d be less likely to say things I would regret later. Maybe I would be less likely to have to apologize for the offenses I don’t intend. I know I’ve mentioned it before, and I know that patience is a virtue, but I also know that I am still a far ways away from perfecting it. Sometimes even thinking about being patient adds to my impatience. How’s that for ironic?
If I’m being noble, I will tell you that from now on I will take my time, I will live a lot more like my five-year-old, and I will patiently wait for every slow talker, walker, worker and thinker to find their words or actions. But if I’m being honest, I know that I will still anxiously tap my foot under the table while I wait. Sometimes I think the best we can hope to promise is to say, “I’ll work on it.” And I will, but “taking it easy” does not come naturally to me. John De Paola advised, “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” All I can say is, I hope so, because right now everything I’m trying to accomplish is as Mrs. Bennet said, “unconcerned as maybe.”