Patience, My Child, Patience
by Ruby Bayan - 08/06/99
My son -- he was so precocious as a child! He'd force himself to stay awake and do three things at the same time while having a meal because he believed, "Mom, eating and sleeping are a waste of time!" He was eight then.
Now that he's 20, he still solves puzzles at the dinner table, goes to bed at 2 am, and fusses over how some people can dare arrive late for an appointment! He's always in a hurry -- to finish a novel, wipe out all the bad guys in a video game, or straighten things out with his girl. Sometimes I wonder what he's so in a rush for.
I can't recall how many times I've advised him that there's a time and place for everything -- that timing oftentimes leads to better results than being there first. I reminded him that just as you can't force a fruit to ripen, you can't defy Murphy's Law, either. Some things, good or bad, just need to happen in their own space, in their own time.
One morning when he was about 10, he came to me and said he wanted a brother... an older brother! I said, "Son, if you want a brother, you'll have to settle for a younger one." He eventually accepted the fact that he's growing up as an only child -- and that there are things even I can't change! As time passed, he started to learn that certain matters have to run their course. These are what I explained to him:
We can't change the seasons, not time nor the forces of nature. The growth and death of living things, the pulse of the universe, and the intrinsic nature of the basic elements, all these are beyond our control. All we can do is sit back and let them unfold.
We can't change the genes we were born with -- the blueprint that dictates the color of our hair, the sound of our voice, and our mental aptitude. And there's no reason we should try. What we can do is accept what we have, downplay what we find unpleasant, and enhance what we should be proud of.
We can't change what other people think, say, or do. Oh yes, we can influence them to a certain degree, but we can't change them, we can change only ourselves. We can't alter what we see in other people, we can only adjust how we see them. If we see that things are not going our way because of another person's preferences and priorities, we can choose to be disgusted or we can try to understand, see matters from his perspective, and be patient. Or we can find ourselves another space and time.
Will being impatient and fretting about things we cannot change, change anything? To be patient and let things run their course as they should is one of the secrets of happiness and contentment.
Because, you see...
There will always be 24 hours in a day, disappointment in failure, pain in abuse, and differences in opinion, just as there will always be laughter, song, friendship, and love. The circle of life will always prevail -- growth will follow birth, deterioration will follow aging, and death will herald a new beginning. Such is the path of life.
Maybe when my son is a little bit older, when he takes his first lap in the rat race, he will remember what I told him. Maybe he will learn to appreciate a good night's sleep, his friend's frailties, and his employer's idiosyncrasies. Maybe one day he will understand the virtue of patience.