I admire people who have patience. I also admire people who have $28,000,000 in the bank. Unfortunately, I have neither.
Patience—or, more accurately, the total lack thereof—is one of the most consistently recurring themes in my life. I can readily acknowledge the value of patience, but am totally incapable of practicing it. If I want/expect something to happen, there is in my mind absolutely no reason why I should have to wait for it. Waiting for something wastes time, and time is without question my largest single obsession.
Being a writer and having patience go together like peanut butter and jelly. I hate peanut butter and jelly. I am at the moment awaiting the release of my next book, which my publisher assures me will be rolling off the press in a month or so (“or so” being the operative words). But it could, in fact, be rolling off the press day after tomorrow and that wouldn't keep me from pacing back and forth, mumbling and muttering and being miserable because I don't have it in my hand right this minute. I know I will have it sometime, but I want it now. I’ve wanted it now since the minute I sent it off to the publisher.
I am totally unfazed by logic pointing out that my expectations aren't realistic. Anyone who has followed my blogs for any length of time—say two or three weeks—undoubtedly knows where I stand when it comes to accepting reality. I do understand logic, it's just that I can't apply it when it comes to something I want. I know it takes time for a book to go through the process, but that's totally irrelevant to the fact that I want what I want when I want it. (We will not go into the question of my success rate on that score.)
It sometimes puzzles me how I can possibly justify my lack of patience in light of the very real pride I take in the stoicism I developed during and after my bout with cancer. And I do realize that in the scheme of things patience and impatience are little more than a niggle. But knowing that and doing something about it are unfortunately two different things. Patience is the desire to bridge the gap between now and a point of time in the future but, like worry—to which we all seem to devote far too much time—the fact is that the things we wait for or worry about do eventually resolve themselves regardless of what we do or do not do. Like kidney stones, once the cause of the impatience has passed, the pain and anxiety are instantly over and quickly forgotten, thus freeing us up for the next set of niggles.
The lack of patience has an untold number of unpleasant side effects. For one thing, it leads to making hasty decisions which are far too frequently regretted as soon as they are made. Words once spoken cannot be unspoken; the best one can do is to partially repair or patch over the damage. An act resulting from impatience may possibly be rectified, but it takes infinitely more time and effort than having taken the time to do it right the first time.
It's also been my personal experience that the impatience that caused me to do something wrong the first time will cause me to do it wrong a second time, and a third, or more, and compound the negative effects.
Because my impatience has led to so much frustration throughout my life, I have developed a mantra: “If at first you don't succeed, give up.” While this is hardly an attitude conducive to accolades for perseverance or the raising of monuments honoring achievements, I find it avoids an amazing amount of frustration. And, rightly or wrongly, it is a mantra I can live with.