Monday, November 5, 2012

Notes from the Field: Patience, Patience, Patience

I am oh, so happily sitting in a lit room, with heating drumming it's way up the pipes, three days after Hurricane Sandy knocked the NY/NJ area on it's ear, and every day pleasantries right out of my apartment. I try really hard to remember to be grateful for the "little things" - light, plumbing, drinkable water. Each time I have returned from Haiti, I am always ACUTELY aware of just how blessed not just I, but EVERY American is. But, after a little while the sense of entitlement seeps right back in, and I find myself becoming annoyed if the train is a tad late, or if - GOD FORBID, my cellphone acts a little strangely. I forget that things I take for granted, are not rights, they are perks - privileges that I should constantly be thankful for, and in awe of. So, I look at the past three days, and to however long it takes to restore my beloved PATH and subway service back to their under appreciated, but when you really think about it AWESOMENESS, as a time to cultivate that most important of qualities - gratitude. And, I will try really hard to be the model of patience, as people who have far more skills and knowledge than I do, work their tails off to restore a mass transit system that allows people like me to zip in and around the area, car free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for just a few dollars. And so, if you see me telling stories in the next few weeks, don't be surprised if this next one comes out of my lips, because every time I tell it, I am reminded that patience is indeed a virtue. And one I need to grow in myself. "There once was a man who returned from a war, completely changed. where once he was loving to his wife, now he barely looked at her, and spoke harshly when he did. The wife, saddened by all this, went to the town wise man. "I hear you can make potions to make someone love you again. Please, please, make such a potion for me." The wise man said he would, but to do this, he would need the woman to bring him three whiskers from a tiger. The woman left, puzzled about how she could possibly get the whiskers, and not be mauled to death. And then she came up with a plan. She went to the lair of a tiger, and placed a bowl of the richest cream some distance from the mouth of the cave, and then hid herself in the woods. When the tiger came out, it sniffed the air, but did not see her, and ate the cream. For one full week, she did this same thing. The next week, she moved the bowl of cream closer to the mouth of the tiger's lair, and when it came out, she still stood a good distance away, but she let the tiger see her. Another week passed, and she moved the bowl closer to the mouth of the tiger's cave, and she herself crept closer. Nearer and nearer both she and the cream got, as first weeks, then months passed, finally she was standing besides the tiger when it drank the cream. It gently went to the woman, and let her stroke it's great head, and as she did, she pulled three whiskers from it's face. Going back to the wise man, she proudly said, "Here are the whiskers you wanted. Now, make the potion that will make my husband love me once more." The wise man smiled, and replied, "First - tell me how you got these whiskers." And so she did, relaying in detail how she had patiently worked every day to gain the tiger's trust. And when she was done, the wise man smiled at her, and said, "And it is the same thing with your husband - you MUST have patience." Life is full of challenges, and many of them cannot be fixed in a day, a week, sometimes not even for years - but it's in those times, instead of tearing our hair out, maybe we can begin to practice patience. If it's something we want badly enough, like the woman in the story yearning for the love of her husband, than it is surely worth the wait!

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