PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE (that I’m working on!)
Last week, I stumbled upon a most unlikely breed of secret ninjas who taught me more about stealth patience than anyone else in my life ever has. Enter the technical staff, managers, and customer service providers at Apple Care. Yes, an IT department and an anonymous voice on the other end of the line can be your personal Obi Wan Kenobi, so keep your eyes peeled.
After (literally) four to five hours a day on the phone with Apple technicians (six in total), who diligently called me back when we got disconnected and never seemed hurried, stressed, or irritable—even after everything we tried landed us back to square one—I am humbled and in awe.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on a wild ride with patience. After downloading the new(ish) Mountain Lion operating system, my computer rebelled, froze, and puked up every glitch or wrinkled email attachment it’s ever received. It refused to function.
Clearing the hard drive, reinstalling, re-clearing the hard drive, buying a new hard drive, more memory, hours of diagnostics, and massage therapy on my MacBook Pro: none of it worked. Inundated with frustration, anger (bordering on rage), angst, anxiety, and irritation, my hand was forced. I surrendered.
Lesson #1: I see clearly how addicted I am to working (on my computer), keeping up with everyone via the internet and trying to be efficient and effective.
Lesson #2: I am not patient.
Lesson #3: I semi-panic when I feel helpless and out of control. (Translation: I am NOT a computer person, have no idea how to troubleshoot technology, and don’t like handing over all my external hard drives, digital photos, music, documents, and computer to someone I don’t know, even if he does call himself “The Macintosh Doctor”.)
The body doesn’t lie. After nearly three weeks of barely working on my computer (hence this delayed post), physical tension consumed my body and my irritability grew to an all-time high.
In the wake of my technological (and emotional) meltdown, here’s what I did to cultivate patience:
The first passage comes from the Tao Te Ching’s Chapter 45—my favorite all-time quote from my favorite all-time book:
“True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
yet it is fully present.
True straightness seems crooked.
True art seems artless.
The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way
and lets the Tao speak for itself.”
Translated by Stephen Mitchell (1988)
I turn to this stanza for virtually every situation in my life.
Lesson #4: Turn lemons into lemonade.
“True perfection seems imperfect, yet it is perfectly itself.”
As imperfect as I thought this was, I ventured outside, away from my office and into the sublime autumn majesty of Aspen, Colorado in early September.
Result: Aspects of myself that tend to be pushed aside thrived. Instead of chaining myself to my desk, I went on more hikes in two weeks than I did all summer, summited my first 14,000-foot mountain (Mt. Elbert—the highest peak in Colorado), finally completed that “back-burner project” of organizing my boyfriend’s office and teaching him a filing system, and shed my virtual alter-ego.
“True fullness seems empty, yet is fully present.”
I had to empty out my ideas, get fully present, and step out of the way to allow things to happen on their own accord. I gave up control.
“The Master allows things to happen. She shapes events as they come.”
Surrendering to a quirky computer lab technician or a faceless Apple Care manager and clicking “DELETE” to everything I virtually owned was far from easy, but on a deep level, it felt good. It was out of my hands. I had reached the edge of my territory of expertise and was in someone else’s queendom now. Technical ninjas of patience teaching me how to trust, let go, be patient, and breathe.
Lastly, I turn to American mystic, Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
There is a time for every season. Leaves turn. Leaves fall. Things die. Flowers bloom. You can’t push the river.
When we let go of “My will” and allow “Thy will,” we open ourselves to magic and awe of Divine timing.
Usually, things do not come to fruition in the timing we prefer. This is because our psyche and soul are not ripe or ready yet to receive the gifts that are arriving. If your child, a relationship, a project, or your career isn’t developing at the rate you think it should, can you trust something else is going on and will be revealed in the right and perfect time? Can you slow down, let go, and cultivate other aspects of yourself instead?
Everything comes in its own time. Nature changes and shifts in her own patient timing. Trust in this natural, divine order of the universe. Allow a greater hand to work through you.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts.
P.S. My computer is now faster and smarter than ever, and Apple Care has the best customer service on the planet. Hands down! Thank you, Apple!