Hanging Out with Impatience

By Barbara Casey These days I am walking steadily with my old friend impatience. The more I get to know my ancestors, the more seeds of anger and impatience I find. My grandfather, Papa, had a "terrible temper," as my father put it. And I remember Nonie, my mother's mother, jangling her keys in her hand every time we drove her home from dinner at our house. Usually one of us would reach over and cover her hand and smile, since the song of her impatience was driving the rest of us crazy—possibly being a bit too close to our own feelings. If you put your water glass down at my mom's house, it will be in the dishwasher before you can reach for the next swallow.

Probably neither of my parents has ever been late for an appointment, so religious was the practice of being on time.

And then, I married Robert thirteen years ago. Robert is slow, methodical, calm, laid-back—a kapha type in the Ayurvedic system. He always seems to have just what anyone might need in the backpack he carries around, but there is a price: every time we get out of the car to do an errand, the many items in the backpack—hat, sunglasses, lip balm, water, and many others—must be inventoried and possibly transferred to his fanny pack. Then the window screen goes up on the windshield, all windows are closed, and changing shoes takes place. By this time, I am out of the car, down the street, and in the store or restaurant, having already picked out what to purchase. Of course, I've forgotten my water, jacket, and lip balm, but hey! I'm ready for the next event. Robert usually takes about twice as long as I do to make a simple meal, but his has an unmistakable gourmet flair. He's braised the veggies in sun-dried tomato stock or caramelized the onions for 20 minutes over slow heat. And he is the king of mindful eating. He eats one forkful at a time, putting down the implement between each bit, stopping the process entirely to talk and sometimes even, to listen.

You get the idea. I've been partnered with a bodhisattva, if not of mindfulness, at least of slowness, which is a good first step. Sometimes it drives me crazy.


So I spend a lot of time at the edge of my own momentum, hearing the gears grind and not wanting to downshift. When I let go and simply slow down, my peace returns and my heart opens. When it's just me jumping around in a rush, none of it makes sense. After all, I'm retired from a full-time job and live in the mountains with the trees and the clouds, who have their own slow sense of timing. But when I realize that Nonie and Papa, Mom and Dad, and numerous other ancestors are pushing, pushing, pushing me to cross things off my "to do" list, I can relax and have compassion for all of us. This is my practice: to welcome and greet my impatient self and all the ancestors. This practice has taught me to invite them all to walk with me and to sit in silence, holding the energy of impatience gently, like a precious jewel. Looking deeply into its heart to find the pure love of life that is its essence.

As Thay says, "Life is too short to do things quickly."

Barbara Casey, True Spiritual Communication, was ordained into the Order of Interbeing in Santa Barbara on September 9, 1999.

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