“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
I, by nature, am a very impatient person. When things don’t go according to my timetable or fast enough to suit me, I become frustrated and cranky. Patience is one of the foundations of mindfulness practice, and most days my failure at embodying patience just serves to send more lessons my way.
I’ve been working on a memoir for a while now, and I say “a while” because I can’t bring myself to voice the actual length of time it has taken ― going on 3 years ― 5 if you count some of it as a floundering grad school thesis. I seem to have written myself into a spot I can’t get out of (or more likely, I don’t want to confront). When I force myself to face how long it’s been under construction, abandoned, revised, torn apart, abandoned and picked up again, I torment myself with thoughts of inadequacy. Although intuitively I know I should be non-striving and stop grasping, my impatience gets the better of me.
After sitting at this memoir roadblock for a while, I’ve put it aside and been recommitting to my mindfulness practice. After a few weeks of letting it go and focusing on accepting things as they are, I had a conclusion epiphany. I call it a “conclusion epiphany” because this was my roadblock; I was at a wretchedly painful place in the memoir and could not figure out where or how to end it. Writers often find themselves at a roadblock when we come face-to-face with memories we’re not ready or willing to face; perhaps we subconsciously put up roadblocks so we don’t have to face the dragons. Obviously, I am an avoider as well as impatient. All this time, I was so close, and the closer to the conclusion I got, the more impatient I was to finish it. The more impatient I became, the more my brain shut down. The book floundered.
“Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn
Then, out of nowhere, the conclusion epiphany. After a year and a half of practically ignoring the whole memoir. It just came out of nowhere, over a cup of Sunday morning caramel nut coffee. I had spent a few weeks meditating and reading and thinking about things other than this damn book, and there it was. The end.
“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” ― Molière
Of course, the idea is there, but I have yet to write it. But I’m recommitting to the memoir, and I’m going to let it unfold in a patient, non-judging, and non-striving mindful frame of mind. Or at least that’s my plan.