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Patience, Again and Again and Again

Whatever challenges a practice presents, there is nothing, but nothing, more prominent than patience. Patience will drive you mad. It will set you free. And it will always be the heart and soul of a meditative life.


The twin sister of patience is, of course, control. That is to say, the lack thereof. Were we to be lord and master over all that ever was and is, patience would be rendered pointless as we would never be left for wanting or waiting.

Even as I write this, I can feel the desire to be done with the words so I can move on to the next event. Some lunch, possibly. Then I’ll be eating my lunch wanting to leave the house. Once on the subway, I’ll want to get somewhere, and once there, I’ll be itching to move on again. It will be a day marked by impatience. It has been a life marked by impatience.

The question I always return to is maddeningly simple: what is wrong with here and now? What is so much better about what’s next if, after decades of experience, I know that it, too, will leave me for wanting? The answer is also maddeningly simple: the promise of something new. Loosely translated, this means: desire. We desire, impatiently, that which we do not have, anything we do not have, however trivial it may seem.

A few days ago I watched an old man sitting on a park bench. He looked serene and peaceful, a person with not a care in the world nor any particular place to be. As I passed by, his patience wafted over me.

And I pressed on, in a hurry.

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