The Detoxing Man is Patient (with time and attention)
I may be one of the only people alive who doesn’t mind waiting in line. There is something so comforting about queueing up, knowing that I will proceed to the front to will have my need fulfilled in some kind of orderly fashion. This does not mean that I am not impatient when I am late or that I don’t get angry when I am in a traffic jam.
And yet, while I wait to pick up medication at the pharmacy, I can’t help but enjoy the short time I have. I use this moment to check in with myself, to see how my day is going or whether or not I’m feeling stressed in my life outside of this line. But, for as long as the line continues, I know that I am held in suspended animation and all I can do is be patient. Because no other action will make things go faster or make me happier. So I wait, safe in the knowledge that my turn will come.
I try to envision this line elsewhere in my life. The metaphorical queue that starts when I wake up. The dishes are first, then coffee making, then some other housework or writing if I can, then the kids will need to wake up for school. The line of my day gets longer and shorter as I construct or complete new tasks. And yet, I cannot always hold onto the same safety that I feel when the physical line stretches out ahead of me. I think this is because unlike the line at the coffee shop, I don’t know when it will be my turn.
I don’t know when in the line of my day I will find an opportunity to get my real needs met, whether that is a solitary walk or to talk about something bothering me. I don’t know when it will happen because the line is seemingly endless. So long, in fact, that I can’t even see the front sometimes. And an infinite line is hard to wait in. It is hard to have patience for infinity when time is so frustratingly finite.
So, I focus upon attention instead of time. While I cannot always remove things from my list or shortcut the line entirely to make time for myself, I can use patient attention to focus upon the joy that can be found there. While making dinner is a task I would rather avoid, if I focus upon chopping the cucumber or flipping the sandwich on the griddle, I find that often my patience is restored.
I do not want to rush to get to the head of the line anymore. I want to be, once again, held in the safety of the moment, checking in with myself. It is the patience of the attention that gives me patience within time, knowing that this moment has purpose and it is one I have chosen. When I am able to do this, and I cannot say that I always can, I do not wish for more time. I have the time I need, the patient attention filling me with meaning, even as I wait for one more task to be served at the front of the line of my life.