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The Prudence of Patience

New England in winter: cold, ice, sleet, and snow. Sometimes the snow comes quickly and heavily blanketing the trees and ground seemingly instantly. But sometimes it begins with such a delicate and soft arrival it is at first not noticeable. A stray flake here and a stray flake there; tiny whispers of winter barely perceptible. And then a few more. Sometimes you have stop and stare to know for certain whether you really did see snow or not. Of course, after a while it either increases to the point where there can be no doubt of its intent or it stops.

And life can work much the same way; changes can come suddenly and overwhelm you; or they can begin imperceptibly like a gentle winter’s snow.  The trick with change is less about the recognition of it than the assessment of how it will impact you and your life. Because as we all know, change is not always pleasant, not always easy, and sometimes it is not for the better. But as we all also know, it is quite inevitable. Nothing in life is static, we age with every tick of the clock; our knowledge grows with every article or book we read; and our souls deepen with enrichment upon every human interaction. (Note: I originally wrote “positive” in the preceding sentence between “every” and “human”, but upon a re-read I removed it because it occurred to me on reflection that it is not just positive moments that enrich our souls.)

Pour a glass of water and wee how quickly the glass fills. Liquids flow with amazing dynamics and life often mimics that. But sometimes life can seem frozen or stuck; no real change day to day or month to month. Science tell us that glass is not truly a solid – that it moves. It is not a liquid though, it is defined as an amorphous solid. The movement is not evident over days or years or decades: it takes centuries to see it. And sometimes change behaves the same, creeping along at an unnoticeable pace.

Change can be miniscule or it can be monumental. And depending upon that, we may, or may not, be able to influence the speed at which the change progresses. Smaller, more personalized, change may be subject to some influence of pace. Certainly though, grander and broader change will move at its own speed regardless of how we may try to alter that. A paltry single human pushing on a glacier will not alter the speed or direction one iota; even an army of humans won’t.

The common thread woven through the fabric of this missive is the need for patience – the need to allow the inevitable to occur. And wow, can that be hard! Think about being 7 and pining for Christmas to hurry up during November; about being 14 wishing you could drive; about being 25 and wanting financial security or a new car or your first house. The point is we spend so much time of our lives wishing and waiting for change. And while we are doing that, we risk missing the “now”; we risk wishing our lives away. When you enter the “waiting” mode you exit the “living” mode and that, my dear reader, is an insidious trap in which we all get caught at one time or another.

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