Patience is indeed a virtue. Undoubtedly, any meaningful goal we accomplish requires us to exercise patience. Also undoubtedly, we have been forced to wait for something to happen that we could not cause to make happen ourselves. When we were told as kids to ‘wait patiently,’ that probably meant some version of ‘wait without complaining.’ As adults, we see that patience is more than simply enduring waiting. Patience is what we do while we are waiting.
Everything we do requires patience. Nothing can happen outside of the conditions that make it feasible. This governs every way we interact with life. We exercise patience when we pick fruit when it is ripe. We exercise patience to delay gratification. It takes patience to respond rather than to react.
Reacting occurs when we act unintelligently to something happening. Responding, on the other hand, involves acting in accordance with what is happening. The feelings that jump in us when something in our environment startles us can make us do unpredictable and even comical things. If we stop to think about it, we realize that it’s comical because it is unintelligent and does not make sense with what is happening. One consequence of the training of Tumfo Tu is that we learn not to jump or get startled.
Universally, it takes time for things to occur. Imagine someone across the room throws a marker at you. It will take less time for you to move your hand to catch or deflect the marker than it will take for the marker to reach you. Most of us would get startled when that happens. In truth, patience allows us to use the time it takes for the marker to reach us to respond intelligently. We can choose to catch the marker, deflect it, or even to let it hit us. All the possibilities become available through patience.
We live our lives generally being fine with the fact that we get startled and just react. Next time that happens, reflect on what you could have done if you had the power to respond instead.