I am the most impatient person that I know. Which really only makes me question the rest of you. I mean, really? Am I the only one who measures a day in hours and minutes? Am I the only one who feels the tick of our collective clock deep in my bones? Maybe.
I would like to believe this is a condition of my current circumstances. Working full time and being a full time student has made me more aware of how little time there is in a day. I find myself choosing between taking out the trash or getting to work on time. Don’t even get me started on people who work, go to school, and are parents. They are superheroes whose time management I can’t fathom.
But the reality is this is not a newly acquired trait of mine. Many years ago I took a spontaneous trip to Portugal. I had been working in London and arrived in Lisbon early in the morning. I couldn’t check in to my hostel yet so I ditched my bags and went for a leisurely walk.
As “rush hour” started to pick up I got cranky. Here I was, with absolutely no destination in mind, being slowed down by people on their way to work. Every person in Lisbon was the slowest walker ever. As the sidewalks began to fill up, people going about their normal routines, I grew more and more frustrated. People walked slowly, they chatted in the middle of the sidewalk, and they stopped to gaze at storefronts. But more importantly, they were in my fucking way.
I walked enraged for blocks and blocks. Who knows how much of the city I missed out on as I angrily stared at the immovable humans in front of me. When suddenly, reality smacked me in the face. I was having a once in a lifetime experience and I was upset about how long it was taking.
I wish I could say since then I have learned to be more present, to find pleasure in a moment. But I really haven’t. It doesn’t matter how much I value whatever it is I’m doing, I’m always looking ahead, planning my next move, trying to maximize my time.
I worry about this as I think about whether I will someday have children. Children are notoriously slow and I have heard parenting takes enormous patience. I think I will learn though. Last weekend I was at the zoo with my niece. She wanted to see the “monkey in the dark.” We were in the room for all of 30 seconds with no luck, “oh well! Let’s go look at the other monkeys, Auntie,” she said.
“Wait, Virginia,” I replied, “we have to let our eyes adjust to the light, be patient.” She and I sat quietly in the dark room for a few minutes, eventually our patience was rewarded. We saw the monkey in the dark, and I was reminded that some things are worth the wait.