Patience is the hardest lesson of my life.
I jump. I swerve. I throw myself into the fray. In my mind, action is always the better option.
Why? Maybe it gives me an illusion of control. Maybe I think that by acting I am controlling a situation which is, essentially, uncontrollable (like many situations in life). We think we are in control and yet so often we are not. And not being in control just seems weak.
And who likes being weak?
When I look back at my life, there are so many times I jumped. So many. When I was 17 and picking which college offer to accept, I filled out all my cards and selected Hamilton College. My late sister Lynn pleaded with me back then.
“Just go to the accepted students day at Vassar. Just humor me and go,” she said, “I think you need to see Vassar again before you make this final decision.”
I listened to my big sister. She was right. I came home from that day at Vassar and crossed out all those cards. Vassar was the perfect choice. (Thanks, Lynn.) That was an important decision that I almost rushed and picked incorrectly due to my haste.
Life went on. I joined the Air Force, I left the Air Force, I tried a bunch of other jobs. I lived overseas. I had children. (The only constant in my life was writing and dogs: those were two decisions that I always knew were right. Well, besides kids. Hi, kids!)
One day in 2008, my phone rang and the CEO of CrossFit offered me a job. I didn’t even know the man. I took it. Soon after, he asked me to quit my job as an adjunct professor and follow his band. I resigned the next day.
Jump. Jump. Jump. This is what I do. And I regret none of it. There is great merit to following your instincts. I find most of the mistakes I make in life occur when I do not follow my instincts, when I try to over-intellectualize things, when I attempt to think my way out of the box.
Maybe instinct and patience can co-exist. (My impulsive nature wants to say no, but I suspect that is more my ego talking than anything else. Oh, my ego: the frenemy that never leaves.) Maybe there is a way to follow your instincts, even when your instinct does not want to be patient. Maybe there is a path that you’re not seeing right now, a path that is being formed, a path that is just starting to reveal itself. A friend said this to me recently: “There is some power in the ability to be patient.” Maybe she’s right. Maybe we tend to overlook that power, or to misinterpret it as weakness.
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to life, but I have figured out this: your weakness is telling you something.
Listen. The signposts are hard to read if you’re always going 150 mph. Hit the brakes once in a while. Cruise. Tune into yourself and figure out what is happening. You can always stomp on the accelerator again.