A somewhat personal story…
Several months ago my husband and I pulled off a rather miraculous feat and paid off the last of my student loans, taking us fully out of debt, aside from our home mortgage. This was not an accident; it was the result of a years-long, tedious, drawn-out plan to become debt-free and to open ourselves up to the unique lives we really want for ourselves. My dream version of this life included regular travel, classes at the circus school, a fancy Y membership, and consistent get togethers throughout the year with friends across the globe. I could not WAIT to begin living these things as soon as we paid off our debt. As soon as the debt was gone in March. In March, of 2020.
Hilarious, right? Because, surprise! Exactly zero of the things that I was dreaming about and waiting for and working towards are available to me for the foreseeable future. So it goes. The universe sure has a slick sense of humor.
Patience is a virtue, but it’s not my virtue. I am Bad at patience. I like to decide upon a thing, do the thing, and have the next thing planned halfway through the first thing. I don’t like to wait, and I certainly can’t abide when there’s no end date in sight. My impulse is to become irritable and angry, frustrated, and try to control everything I can. Except, there is nothing to control in a Covid world. Outside of the mask on my face and washing my hands, literally nothing is controllable.
What a massive test of my puny Patience muscles.
There was a show that I watched ages ago where a bunch of people go into the woods alone and they see who can make it the longest (I think it was called Alone?…Alive?…Alone and Alive?) without calling for help or breaking down and asking to go home. The last one standing wins a million dollars or something else equally amazing. What was fascinating about this show was that the eventual winner was by far the most boring contestant in the mix. While everyone else was building yurts and hunting and making fishing doodads, he mostly sat in his tent and slept. Sometimes he came out and caught a thing, and then he ate that thing over the next few days while he slept and rested and slept some more. It was the most anticlimactic win of all time. One woman hacked part of her hand off with a hatchet, and another guy had a nervous breakdown. This guy, our winner, did nothing for a few months, was informed that he won, nodded, and went back home. Nonplussed, victorious.
As we routinely talk about in the therapy room: in many instances of adversity, there’s some amount of opportunity. I’m stretching myself here, but perhaps this opportunity is to let go, to take good care, to relinquish control (hint: we never had it, anyway) and to wait. Sit tight. Rest, and wait it out, and see what’s on the other side, whenever the other side appears. Guys, it’s out there. Maybe there’s a million dollars waiting for us, or some equally tantalizing prize, if we can just let things be long enough to get to it.
I know it’s hard. It’s Hard. But I’m doing this Hard thing with you. We’re doing it together. Hang in.
For tonight, we are resting. Patience. Rest. Patience.