I got a lesson in patience lately. Lightening hit in my backyard and the power surge burnt out my computer's power supply unit. Luckily I have very good renter's insurance and they covered the damage and replaced the computer. But it took three weeks for the claim to work it's way through the process. We had a 2004 E-machine computer in storage that we temporarily used. It ran so slowly that I couldn't get in to post a blog.
During that time I realized just how easily I get frustrated. I caught myself actually arguing with a machine. As a matter of fact, my oldest son pointed out that I was talking to the computer like it was a 4-year-old.
Patience is one of the Paramitas or Perfections. It's one of the things we are told to cultivate in our lives. I discovered just how far I have to go to make patience a "Perfection" in my own life.
I asked myself what patience really means. When a mother holds her tongue when a 4-year-old is constantly asking for everything he sees in the store, that's patience. When the wife decides to wait to tell her exhausted husband to take the garbage out, that's patience. When the husband doesn't tell his wife to hurry up and finish getting ready to go out, that's patience. As a Buddhist, realizing that you won't achieve enlightenment in a week, no matter how hard you meditate, that's patience.
Patience is what allows us to respond to a situation rather than react. It gives us that space to allow our logic to kick back in instead of our emotions. We speak about skillful means and unskillful means. Patience is the skillful means that allows us to find peace within ourselves. It's also the hardest to cultivate. That's because we think we're showing patience when in fact we're screaming at the computer to hurry up and load.
In today's "hurry up and do it now" world, patience is the quiet space we find in our own heart and mind. It's the brake on the "life is speeding past me" world. And it's the deep breath that allows us to relax into our own lives.