From expectation to enjoyment—how being patient can improve decisions and transform every moment we experience.
Think about all the things you’ve done, or failed to do, the decisions with consequences you’ve made in a moment and dealt with for what seems an eternity, and all the frustrated, angry time you’ve spent waiting, and you’ll understand the critical importance of patience.
Here’s what patience is not.
Patience is not putting up with what doesn’t serve you, with what breaks you down and tears you apart instead of building you up and helping you become whole.
Patience is not resignation or blind acceptance of the status quo—that which remains the same and keeps us where we are.
Patience is not Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill each morning, Prometheus suffering as his liver is pecked away each day, Tantalus endlessly reaching up for the grapes, down for the water, never to touch either one, or tolerating cruelty and abuse. These are tortures and have nothing to do with patience.
Here’s what patience is.
Patience is understanding, accepting, and embracing an evolved concept of change.
Patience is knowing that change is messy, that transitions are not always crisp, that movement along the path takes time.
Patience is acknowledging that even when you get there, wherever you think your there is, you still need to be patient, because there is always another step to take if you choose to live a life that honors your feelings, a life in which you reach and grow.
Patience is the constant pursuit of sursum corda—a Latin phrase meaning that which lifts up our hearts and raises us to a higher place.
Patience is Michelangelo.
Patience is his David.
Patience is the Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo had the strength to pick up his chisel each day and chip away at the block of marble, to climb the scaffolding, raise his brush, and brighten the gesso with color.
Michelangelo had the patience to understand that art, the art of creating sculptures and frescoes, the art of living an inspired, purposeful, and fulfilling life, is not a means to an end but a process of transition.
Michelangelo had the wisdom to know that while his vision of what he wanted to realize was clear, the path to achieving that vision would take twists and turns—an unseen, internal flaw in the marble, a crack in the ceiling that wasn’t there the day before—and he accepted that the path around these obstacles would be revealed as he moved farther along.
Michelangelo had the grace to know when to pause, to accept that completion is not perfection but part of an ongoing effort, that although an artist finishes individual works, there is only one work that is constantly in process—the work on the soul, the work of shaping, molding, and brightening the self in as close an approximation as possible to the image of the creator, an image we cannot see directly, only in reflection.
Michelangelo understood that freeing David from the marble was freeing himself to grow and change. He understood that the image preserved in the rock, the colors encased in the dried gesso of the ceiling, do not embody cessation of activity but bring to life each and every motion of the artist’s hands and tools, and that these creations change all who experience them, each in a different way.
Michelangelo knew that patience is not standing still but active waiting.
You don’t have to be Michelangelo or even an artist to understand the art of patience.
You just have to change the way you value time.
Adapted from an article originally published on Tom Aplomb.