I am learning patience.
I have never been a patient soul. I have never been a quiet, sit-still-and-wait-for-the-world kind of person. I have recognized that I live life in a kind of exuberant chaos, that I seek constant change, that since I left the familial home and went to college I have been living forwards, always looking for the next thing, always trying something new. When I am unhappy, I change something. When I get into a routine, at about the two month mark, I suddenly change my schedule and add/drop an activity. I am not constant. I get caught up in new passions, in new emotions, and I live them intensely, without thought, without pausing to think (I still grieve), with all my heart, until they end. I pursue my commitments with a pattern of great, initial enthusiasm and then a dwindling resignation until, usually, things steady out.
This is not the way that I can approach this pursuit. This is not the way that I can approach the rest of my life. I have a bachelor’s, I have a master’s, I have a job that I love for the next year and a half. I’ve accomplished the things society expects of me. And now it is time that I settled down and turned my attention to living well, to living wisely and compassionately, and to impacting my world in a positive way.
Different goals from my previous goals… These are not the kind that ever have a definite end. I can never, ever say that I have achieved “living well” or that I have achieved wisdom and compassion, or that the world cannot get any better than I have made it. Only with death can I ever do a final evaluation and decide whether I have done what I have set out to do.
I have been frustrated, these last couple of weeks, because I have wanted to be a better person right now. No waiting, no long, unending labor, just immediate virtue, always present, always active. Instant gratification, instant virtue. Makes sense, right?
But it doesn’t. I won’t become more compassionate, more engaged in the community, more reverent by aiming for and achieving these goals. No, I become these things by living them in the minute-to-minute and experiencing them with full awareness.
My life has to change from being goal-oriented to being life-oriented.