Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Patience is a Virtue

I'll be the first to admit that I have zero patience.  Patience is a virtue I seriously lack.

Interestingly my cats share this lack of virtue with me.  Cats are notorious for their patience.  No one can sit by a mouse hole, hour after hour without moving a muscle like a cat.  I've seen cats fixate on a hole for an entire afternoon waiting for some creature or other to crawl out unsuspectingly, and their patience always pays off.  They always end up with a snack or a toy or a little of both, the remains of which they leave on the doorstep as testimony of their excruciating patience.

My cats have no patience.  As soon as I open my eyes in the morning Percy is wailing for food, Puckett is sitting by the bed staring at me, and Tess is pacing around the bedroom, begging to be let out.  If I don't jump out of bed immediately, Percy jumps up on the bed, races across it, and jumps down the other side.  He'll do this over and over until I either get up or throw him across the room. Otherwise he will race through the house, thundering like a herd of elephants and ensuring that there is no way I'll go back to sleep.

When Precious wants his food, he wants it now.

This can happen at any given time of day.  As far as he is concerned, Percy always wants his food.  If I wander into the kitchen at midnight for a drink of water, he's sitting by the cabinet expecting me to get his bowl out even though all meals stop after nine.

This lack of patience also factors in when playing with bugs, spiders, and inanimate balls of tin foil.  My cats don't sit patiently, watching bugs come to them.  They pounce almost immediately, tear the poor things apart, and leave carcasses of legs and carapaces all over the carpet for me to find.  I try to save the spiders, but I'm usually too late.  By the time I get to them, a paw has already mashed their little eight-eyed faces into the ground.  

There is nothing sadder than a mangled spider body.

Flies are luckier only because they can fly.  My cats have no patience with that either.  They will sit and gawk as a fly buzzes around the room, but as soon as it lands somewhere they are on it like ticks on a hound dog.  Sometimes they don't even wait for it to land.  They throw themselves at the French doors in the bedroom, running their paws across the glass, and genuinely freaking out as the fly calmly buzzes away and traps itself in the light fixture. My cats never catch flies.  Occasionally they catch a moth or two.

If feels like I'm always waiting for something: to hear about the budget at work so I know what my next year of work will look like; a date I'm looking forward to; my bread dough to rise; the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Star Wars movie to come out; The BFG movie to come to the movie theater; my vacation; spring to get here so I can start my garden; the Christmas season so I can decorate my house with lights and tinsel.

I can be patient about some things.  Standing in line at the grocery store doesn't bother me.  Waiting my turn at the doctor's office doesn't bother me.  Hanging out while my car gets an oil change also doesn't bother me.  With these types of situations I have infinite amounts of patience as I bring a book and read.  I will wait all day for appointments.

Waiting on perpetual tardiness bothers me a bit more.  Everyone runs late.  However, when it becomes a habit that I am ALWAYS waiting fifteen or twenty minutes on someone who is supposed to be meeting me for dinner or a movie or whatever, then I do get irritated.  But I am also one of those people who doesn't mind dining alone or watching alone.  If someone is taking too long, I'll just go ahead and order without them.

And on that subject, I no longer wait by the phone for some man to call.  He's not calling, I'm off doing something else fun.  Why women wait on these calls that never come, or when they do are unsatisfactory, is beyond me.  If a woman wants to see a movie, she should go see it.  If she wants to have a glass of wine, she should have it.  If she wants to go skydiving and he promised her, but isn't delivering, then she should go sign herself up for that jump.  Men like women to rely on them as their heroes, but if they aren't delivering, then a woman has to be her own Prince Charming.  If a guy is going to make me wait, then he will immediately be replaced by someone else who is  more fun, better looking, and more inclined to deliver on their promises.  I'm talking about those men who make promises to call or do something together and then never do.  I'm not talking about men who have busy lives and may not be able to drop everything right then and there to take me to the opera but still have every intention of doing so when he can.  Kind, generous, and considerate men have lives and that's okay.  Jerks who make me wait with unfulfilled promises and half-assed pursuit are not worth the time it takes to delete their phone numbers from my phone.

I also have zero patience for drama, people who generate drama, and people who try to drag me into their drama.  And I definitely get very impatient with people who ask me over and over and over for advice on the same issue when I've already given them all I can on the subject.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  The definition of how to make Anita lose her patience the quickest is to ask me over and over the same question and expecting a different answer (albeit, the one you want to hear, rather than my honest opinion or advice).

I have the least amount of patience (or rather NO patience) waiting for my life to start.  Okay, granted my life has already started and I'm doing things in my life that I enjoy while working towards several goals, but really this process is taking too damn long and I'm getting sick of waiting.  I want my best seller and writing career NOW.  I do the work involved, but I still want it NOW. I want that novel done in a day, dammit.  I want my quilt to be finished NOW.  I'm tired of looking at that stupid half-finished knitted blanket.  I want it done NOW too.  And this dating process is really getting on my nerves.  I want the love of my life to walk up to my doorstep already so I can get off these stupid online dating sites and stop dealing with broken hearts from my bad decisions.  Again I do the work involved to get there.  I've been working on myself to attract a better class of men (and the emotionally constipated ones are getting dropped off the side of a cliff). I read my devotionals.  I'm in recovery.  I'm working on my mental health issues while being open enough about them so as not to appear to be hiding them.  I'm getting to know people and taking the time to date rather than jump headlong into a relationship with someone I barely know (because of chemistry). 

As per a wonderful little book called "You're Late Again, Lord! The Impatient Women's Guide to God's Timing" by Karon Phillips Goodman, I'm in the waiting room, working on my control issues and trying to come to terms with the idea that things happen on God's timetable not mine.  My long wait is a result of my avoidance of certain issues that are now bubbling over the surface and forcing me to address them.  Thus, the waiting room.  I'm not ready for the things I desire because I'm still working on myself, and a year and a half in working on myself already feels like a lifetime.  Take into account the many times I've backslid, and it could be another five years in the waiting room.  Backsliding is my own fault.  Every time I think I've got my sheep together and my poop in a group, I get cocky and start reverting to old bad habits.  The inevitable backsliding happens and BAM.  Back in the waiting room.  Every time I start to think "Hey, I can handle this! I'm taking the reins!" I stumble and run the wagon off the road, putting me right back into the waiting room.

Then I wonder why I'm frustrated and depressed.  Once again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  For someone who hates waiting, I sure do everything I can to ensure that I will keep waiting.  Also, if I'm constantly waiting for something or looking ahead at something, I miss out on the present.  One of the lessons I'm learning in my waiting room is to live in the now and enjoy the present.  It's hard, but I have moments of brilliance.

I'm usually in such a rush that I miss things, and I realized the other day that maybe there is another way.  One of my suitors is most decidedly not in a rush.  Not that I have a crazy amount of men chasing after me, but on an online dating site, one always has several people one chats with.  This one is one of my favorites.  We have had three dates.  The first date was pretty awkward - a lot of getting to know you small talk and uncomfortable smiles.  The second date was a hike.  Still a bit awkward, but at least we got to walk (and the rattlesnake provided excitement and drama). We went out for dinner and drinks for the third date.  This guy moves slower than molasses on a winter morning and it's actually brilliant in its simplicity.  So many men are like a fart in a skillet, bouncing from woman to woman.  They start off coming on super strong, swept away by strong chemistry, and then things fizzle out just as quickly as they heated up and they are on to the next thing.  That's exciting when a woman is in her twenties.  After several situations like that, it becomes confusing, hurtful, and more than a little annoying.  How can someone be all about me for two weeks and then suddenly just disappear?  Are feelings really that shallow?  These men demand everything upfront, right away, and then there's nothing left to wait for and they get bored.  Lovely.  My suitor, however, takes his time.  He apparently has patience in spades.  There is that cliche, "Good things come to those who wait."  And wait and wait and WAIT...

In the words of Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "We have a lot of fun, but I want smoochies!" Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  I'm glad he's not trying to paw me in the backseat of his truck.  This guy is a slow burn.  Like I said, brilliant.

In a world where everyone is in a constant rush and instant gratification is a way of life, I can see how we all got to a place where slowing down and waiting is just an inconvenience (I blame Google, by the way - talk about your instant gratification).  I have also noticed that when I get what I want immediately when I want it, I'm not necessarily satisfied because I didn't hold out for the best.  My cats seem to be in the same boat.  They demand their food, gorge it, and then either yak it up all over the carpet or else want to eat again five minutes later.  The dog is bad too.  She begs for her treat,  gobbles it down, and then she's magically by my side again, sitting in front of the cabinet like she's forgotten that she just had a treat.  She's also pretty demanding about that treat.  If I haven't given it to her as quickly as she'd like, she's got her nose nudged up against my hand and her whole body pressed against my legs.  Too bad I can't do this with the universe: press myself up against its legs, stare at it with big eyeballs, and silently plead "Where's my best seller? Can I have it now? How about now?  Now??"

There is a method to the madness, I'm sure. There is a reason we get stuck in the waiting room for months, maybe even years.  While one waits, one learns valuable lessons, but I'll be the first to admit that waiting can be excruciating and there are days when I wonder what's the point and does my life really have a purpose other than going to work and Netflix?  That's when I try to take control and make things happen the way I want them to, so that I don't feel so useless or futile or like I'm letting my life march by without me.  It's an illusion, of course.  We never really have control over anything. We just think we do, or we wish we do because waiting is so hard.

Perhaps that's why most cats play with their prey for so long?  They enjoy the element of control since they get to decide how long the game plays out and who inevitably wins, like small furry gods. Meanwhile they cultivate their patience because these games can go on forever and they never seem to get bored of them.

Not my cats, though. My cats have no patience for patience, and the only thing they enjoy controlling is me. Meanwhile I have no control over anything, including my cats, and my time in the waiting room stretches longer and longer.

Good thing I have a stack of magazines and books to read while I wait.

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