My Java Journal

On Patience: Sage Wisdom For Trying Times

A fridge magnet I bought at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. – Sage advice, this.


It’s getting harder. There is no one to blame, and there is no one identifiable issue, it is just getting harder. Trapped between doing what you know is right – staying home – and what you know you need – getting away; the balancing is hard to maintain.

Walks help. Running helps. Writing helps. Routine helps. Still, there is no fire pit due to fire bans, there is no adventure outside the immediate neighbourhood, and only virtual conversations; which are helpful. However, with no end in sight, this new reality is tough.

I am proud though. Proud of my kids for doing their homework. For keeping in touch with friends. For helping when asked. They have found a routine for themselves that works. They are showing patience with the current situation.

I am proud of my wife. Proud because she is working from home in less than ideal conditions. For finding a routine that works for her. For keeping the family stable, as she always has. She is showing patience with the current situation.

And I am grateful to her for letting me lose myself in my music or this blog, and for not questioning when I need to get out and run or walk.

I am certain we are all going through similar, especially as governments extend closures, and forecast enduring isolation measures. Tough times. Patience is more important now then ever before.

A Coping Strategy

I know I have grown over the years. I have more growing to do however, and and I am finding that faults I thought I had corrected are starting to emerge again. So at moments like this I turn to my journal of quotes, and to those more enlightened than I.

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” – Helen Keller

So true, and in matters of patience I suspect few are as relevant or more enlightened than Helen Keller.

I caught myself a few times these past weeks having to take a deep breath. This insight I have drawn on many times over. I have gotten better at understanding my faults and in implementing strategies to handle, indeed to preempt, frustration, anger, and anxiety. Still, and again there is no one issue and certainly no fault from any other than myself, but there are times I need to check myself. Following is one strategy that is proving fruitful right now.

This simple tactic I have found works best. I borrowed it from one of the Founding Fathers, and the third President of the United States of America; Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson left, as part of his Legacy, his Ten Rules for a Good Life. Number 10 (or 12 in this linked unabridged version) is the relevant one in this instance:

When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.

Countless times have I recalled, and utilized this tactic. Not quite literally, but it reminds me to take a moment and consider my words and actions. It works. I find it works even better when a walk is added to the counting. And so I walk. I walk and count, and work out my frustrations and anger; usually before they manifest. Then I come back and I have a better way forward. Most damage is normally done by unchecked reaction; this is how I check mine.

Canadian Wisdom

So, I was noticing how I was drawing reference to two Americans here. One, Keller, is a universal inspiration; the other, perhaps less universally inspirational, I think offers sage guidance in tolerance. I can tell you that standing in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, and reading his words, he is an example of the good that founded America. Then I got to thinking how there must be a Canadian I can draw inspiration from. There must be a quotable Canadian I can reference in the context of this post. Gord Downie to the rescue;

“I like hanging with my family and helping them on their way however I can. There’s a new tragicomedy every half-hour, there is laughter, there are tears, and it’s all real. They are endlessly entertaining, they have given me so much, they’ve given me a chance to ‘see’ things again.” – Gord Downie

Apt, no? I think so. As we all endure lock-down with our immediate families, let’s remember, as Gord suggests, that “it’s all real” and that we should take this “chance to ‘see’ things“. To laugh. To cry. In your unique tragicomedy, make sure to see each other. For despite the unavoidable and inevitable drama, we need to find in each other, and take joy in how, we are together “endlessly entertaining.”

In the end there is only Love. So find your patience. Take a breath. Be kind. Be grateful. Things could always be worse.

Whether you are celebrating Easter, or Passover, other, or nothing, enjoy the long weekend and take the time to be with your family. We’re all in this together.

One final quote; again, from an American who knows:

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow. – Helen Keller

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