Friday, August 29, 2008

The Art of Patience

“How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” -Paul Sweeney

I am addicted to good quotes. I found my high school assignment planner the other day, and page after page is littered with quotes. Funny quotes, inspiring quotes, thoughtful quotes… I guess part of me is occupied with the idea that eventually, I’d like some 18-year old to be jotting my words, verbatim, into their own planners some day.

Because of my obsession with quotes, I tend to savor them when I find them in unexpected places. This quote was in a word-a-day email I read. Recently, the moderator changed the format of his emails, including a “thought for the day” with each new vocabulary term. When I read this one, I stopped for a moment and really thought about it. We do live in a Right. Now. kind of world. Kids growing up today are accustomed to instant everything. Information. Mac and cheese. Photographs. Communications. If you want hot rolls, the Pillsbury Doughboy has one you can pop in the oven, and have a seemingly freshly-made roll in only 10 minutes.

I imagine our grandparents and how they must have viewed the same things we see as “instant.” For some of them, to have your photo made, meant sitting still for several minutes or risking a blurred face. To have a loaf of bread meant undertaking a half-day of dough rising, kneading and rising again. And information? Forget it. The library was the only place to go, unless you were lucky enough to own some encyclopedias or have very intelligent parents. There was no way they could just sit down at a computer and instantly be able to conjure up how much an average zebra weighs (700 pounds for males, and 570 pounds for females – the internet knows ALL).

This brings me to another point, which I think relates more to patience than anything else. Divorce. I think the ever-rising divorce rate has more to do with a growing lack of patience in our society than anything. In days of yore, men and women were expected to stick to the marriage, even when one or the other stopped having that lovin’ feeling (yes, I’m singing the song now). Today, there’s a society expectation of instant gratification, and if our partner isn’t satisfying our every need at that instant, you can be divorced faster than you could resolve the issue.

I am every bit the realist about marriage. I know, from watching my own parents, that there can be entire years when you don’t really like your spouse. You love him/her because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have married each other. But sometime that love is buried under frustration, stress, annoyance, anger, and dislike. Sometimes you really have to dig deep to find that love. Like when your husband has decided to pursue something you’re not particularly fond of (“But honey, you always loved watching ice dancers on TV!”) or when he’s stopped recognizing birthdays and anniversaries in any proper way (“Happy birthday, sweetie! When’s dinner ready?”). I’ve already readied myself for the idea that one day, Greg and I may not be on the best of terms. We may have a knock-down, drag-out fight that leaves us both avoiding one another for weeks. (Although I hope not.) This is where patience is useful. This is when you have to be truly committed to waiting out the bad patches until you get to another good one.

Patience is a virtue, as they say, and I think it’s time I redeveloped mine. I think this weekend I’ll bake a loaf a bread. From scratch. With regular yeast. That’s patience.


Anonymous said...

Bread, I LOVE bread!! Have you baked that loaf from scratch yet? If not, maybe that would be a fun project for us to do together sometime!!

Anonymous said...

I think that's very true, what you said regarding patience and marriage in our society. I'm of the same mind. Yet I'm also a victim of impatience every now and again. Though I find that the older I get, the better equipped I am emotionally to wrangle that impatience in.