I recently read, or dreamt, or had this sentence reach me in an entirely different way as is often the case, and that sentence goes like this ‘Have the courage to be patient’.
And it really struck me, given that I have a lot of courage and almost no patience. Well, that was true up until fairly recently.
It kind of blew my mind to put these two qualities together because they’re seemingly contradictory. Surely it’s the brave people that are going for it no matter what, the brave ones that are facing their fears and compelled to action? and it’s the timid sort that sit and wait and do little (or so it seems) but of course, when I think about it, patience does require a lot of courage and this is why.
Patience requires that we sit in the discomfort of uncertainty; it requires that we let go of the control, and the action and the doing that, certainly for me, can alleviate a lot of anxiety around not knowing. I don’t know about you, but I feel less anxious when I am able to control (even if it’s delusional because how much do we actually control?), when I do things, when I take action, which in a way is a certain kind of madness.
It’s madness because these actions and this doingness (it’s now a word, live with it) don’t always result in the outcome I want, and yet, I often find myself lost in a flurry of activity in order to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty, the boredom and frustration of waiting or, gulp, the fear of trusting. Trust, ultimately is what it seems to come down to.
Mark Manson, a revolutionary and modern day thinker who swears a lot and is one of my long distance mentors, has this to say ‘There’s a certain level of joy and meaning that you reach in life only when you’ve spent decades investing in a single relationship, a single craft, a single career. And you cannot achieve those decades of investment without rejecting alternatives.’
For me this means, that one requires a lot of patience to sit with this one thing, to narrow one’s alternatives and to not jump ship out of impatience, fear, boredom, or frustration.
If you’re reading this and you know me well, just know that I can hear you laughing because you can’t believe that I, Cherryl Duncan, am writing about patience, and commitment, and of narrowing of ones alternatives.
Well stop laughing you judgmental critters and hear me out because it’s kind of confession time.
Yes, it’s true, I have mostly lived my life embracing alternatives. When I have an idea, it feels like nothing less than divine fucking inspiration. Seriously. I am not kidding. It floods my body with a rush of what can only be described as electricity. But light, and not painful. It takes possession as my heart pounds, my head spins in a way that makes perfect sense to me, and I feel an almost uncontrollable urge to take action. NOW!
The problem is that this happens often. And even more disturbing, the new idea can easily be contrary it’s predecessor. It’s in these moments when I don’t know if it’s evolution or madness, but it’s very hard to ignore.
I remember asking my business partner awhile ago, when I had a yoga studio, what she found most challenging about me, and she said ‘Your constant changing and new ideas’. ‘Just when I feel I’ve got on board with one idea, you swoop in with a new one’. Bless her heart, I must’ve been a nightmare.
If you’ve ever experienced ideas that possess you to action with enough force to move mountains, (or just a lot of paper, and pens and yes, very often other people) then you’ll now how hard it is to, as Mark Manson says, reject alternatives.
It’s hard to open to the idea that perhaps meaning and fulfilment is not found in more and more different experiences (and ideas), but rather in careful selection and then real commitment to that thing.
So, that brings me to today, where I now start to see my electric force with it’s 100 ideas as kind of childish and quite frankly, afraid; afraid to stand the discomfort of uncertainty. Its nature is (yoga reference alert), Shiva which is creative and destructive. Wonderfully Creative, Devastatingly Destructive and oh so powerful.
So now I recognise another part of me, that sees the force, acknowledges its existence but works and plays with it, instead of being possessed by it. This happened as a result of following the force almost every single time it came to visit and the one day, just one day, saying NO. I can't anymore. One day I realised I actually had a choice.
When I have those moments now, I try not to act. (ok, I write it down) but then I wait. I tell myself everything in it’s own time. Not everything has to happen now.
There’s value in non-action. To stop. To wait. To …trust.
To get to know uncertainty. To let that idea, that inspiration sparkle on the page, having it’s own life, it’s own journey, waiting for the right time.
Maybe, and I know this sounds weird, maybe it’s for someone else. Maybe it moves away from me and finds someone else to possess; someone who it is the right time for. I think that happens when you see someone do something you thought of.
So, this idea I give to you.
It didn’t come to me in a dramatic flood of electricity. It crept in slowly but steadily. It gently tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Hey, what about this?’
We chatted over some tea and I decided to let it stay.
If you find yourself filled with inspiration and you throw something out there that no one sees or responds to - maybe it’s just simply not the right time for it.
If you find yourself running in circles following everything that sparkles, feeling tired and directionless, try my technique of writing them down, closing the book and focussing on what’s important, what makes you happy, what you’ve been doing for a long time, and what’s stuck around regardless.
Please don’t try and silence the inspiration, or the ideas. Don’t misunderstand me. That force can be scary and overwhelming for some ; but instead, find a way to talk with it, tell it to sit down, make it feel welcome but firmly state, that they will not be running the show.
Ps, No, I am not suffering from a psychiatric disorder (at least not diagnosed)
Nor am I on medication.
I’m Just on a lifelong journey to understand all of the forces that drive us.