Chances are, you’ve probably heard the adage “Patience is a virtue.”
It wouldn’t be considered an adage if there weren’t some truth behind it, and patience wouldn’t be considered a virtue were it not a positive quality that would all should aspire to. Yet for so many of us, it is a hard one to put into practice.
We live in a time where I want it now.
With the Internet at our fingertips, information, reservations and status updates are but a few clicks of the keys away. Apps have been designed to help us get a car service (Uber), order delivery without ever even speaking to an actual person (GrubHub), and even find a partner, if not to spend eternity with, then at the very least fool around with (OkCupid, Tinder, et al).
The world of technology has made it easier for us to get (most of) the things we want, when we want it, making us a lazy bunch of idiots.
When we actually have to interact with people, we get frustrated when we have to wait our turn. In trying to schedule an appointment for a service by a living, breathing human being (hair cuts, massages, doctor’s appointments), we get annoyed when there is no availability when it would most perfectly fit in our schedule, when it would best suit ourselves—and not the schedule of the individual who will be providing us the service.
But when they are doing us the favor, shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Even when there isn’t another person involved, when we set our sights on some grand goal (writing a book, learning how to surf, making/designing one’s own clothes, becoming an acupuncturist, learning how to play an instrument), we decide that the dream is unattainable because of all the time and effort one would have to put into it to make it happen.
Maybe you’ve started on the path to your goal and, in frustration, gave up. Why can’t I just be good at this now? you thought to yourself. This is too hard, taking up too much of my time. I’ve got better things to do.
I recently started teaching at Yoga Nanda, a well-known Long Island–based yoga studio I had long-dreamed of teaching at. I had been a student there for some time, finally obtaining an audition January of this year. Since my audition, I subbed various classes, hoping that the students would like me, hoping that one day I would get a class of my own added to the schedule. I knew it wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight.
I had to put in my time. I had to be patient.
Finally, last month I got an email from the studio owner telling me she wanted to put me on the schedule for fall. I was elated, beaming. I couldn’t stop smiling I was so excited. Not that I had waited super long for this goal to be attained, but it was a reminder, as I am currently working on a book, that no matter how big or small, dreams do come true.
In order for that to happen, though, we must put in the time, we must put in the work, we must put in the effort. We can’t just click on an app and expect to be added to a yoga studio’s schedule and we can’t expect a book to write itself.
And in all that time, work and effort that we dedicate to whatever dream we are striving toward, therein lies so much knowledge to be gained. About ourselves, about others, about the world around us.
We will probably make some mistakes along the way to achieving the dream, but it will make us better, stronger individuals for it, and we can help inspire others who might be on a similar path, sharing with them what did or didn’t work for us.
If we didn’t have to work so hard to turn our dreams into reality, then finally getting that goal accomplished wouldn’t mean much to us, we’d likely not cherish it as much. They wouldn’t likely fall into the label or folder of “dreams” but maybe just “something cool that I can do.”
When you read about accomplished people (J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Charlize Theron) who have overcome a great tragedy or trauma from their past to propel them to the limelight, it makes it easier to see that celebritydom isn’t always based on the luck of a pretty face. Some of these people had no choice but to pursue their dreams in order to escape their pasts.
So what will propel you to follow through with your dream?
I was driving to my first official class at Yoga Nanda the other day when I got stuck in some terrible traffic. I sat there, gripping the steering wheel, wiling the cars to move to either side so that I could zip on through, envisioning a reenactment of Moses parting the Red Sea. My eyes darted from the traffic around me to the clock on my dashboard and I realized how impatient—even now, after I obtained this specific goal—I was being.
I loosened my grip, sat back, took a few breaths, and realized that, though one of my dreams came true, there was still so much work that to do on myself.
So I did the only thing I could do: call the studio to let them know my situation, that I’d be a few minutes late. It was the best I could do, and you know what? Our best is all we can do, and life still goes on, even if you’re a few minutes late to class.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: authors own