Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Luxury of Patience

It isn't just something Yoda talks about; patience is a luxury. It's the money-making investment most of us wish we'd made, the vacation to top off a mediocre year, the healthy meal we know we should eat but struggle to pick over the deliciously fried alternative listed to its right.

We stand in lines frustrated at their pace, opt for altered food devoid of nutrition, twist our cars through close traffic and blame our accidents, our cholesterol, our anger on someone else. We get trapped in the thought that we, alone, exist in the world. We become impatient for better/faster/stronger/more, for everything inherent in mindfulness without the practice of being mindful.

It came to me while I sat in traffic, unmercifully dissecting the inability of most drivers to (1) merge, (2) allow others to merge, and (3) thank those around them for any quick, ninja-like reflexes when bumpers come dangerously close to connecting. I realized that if there was any place the yogi practice of mindfulness could be applied, it was in the driver's seat of a moving vehicle.

Every morning and every night, I am surrounded by people willing to risk bodily harm because traffic isn't moving fast enough in the direction they've decided to go. I even find myself irrationally annoyed. I've written about this before - our society's deep longing to be 'other than' (other than where we are, who we are, what we look like, who we're with, where we work). It's a presence all around us, even in our cars, and it often translates into harmful behavior.

Sometimes it's an inability to sit in traffic without endangering other people, sometimes it's the choice to be unfaithful or unkind. And as I watch people react to life, watch them refuse to be active in their choices, I've realized the necessity in making small, mindful steps to pay attention, to be present in my work, to accept my monkey brain during meditation and move through my life as I do my yoga poses.

Because no matter where I find myself, I am there. I spend my time there, I exist within those moments. And maybe it's not ideal (it will never be ideal), but wishing it away, rushing into anything else, will only recreate the impatience that led me there to begin with. Which is not to say that I shouldn't take risks, but rather that I be mindful of the risks I take.

Because I'm here. Because I'm responsible for my half. Because being present allows for the luxury of patience. Because Yoda was right - this is the nature of life. Be present.