I have never been a very patient person, especially if the things on which I wait seem even remotely in my own control. It’s one thing to have to wait in line at the post office or at an amusement park, but quite another for me to have to wait on myself or my brain to do whatever it has been called on to do.
Growing up, I played the piano. In high school, I especially loved to perform big, dramatic pieces with lots of running eighth notes, but the process of learning the music nearly killed me. As I sat at the keyboard, day after day, learning slowly how to make my fingers conform to the patterns on the page of music in front of me, I wished away my practice time. I begrudged the discipline of hands-separately-then-together, longing for the moment when I would finally get it and the music would flow effortlessly, joyfully out of my fingertips.
This impatience is also often reflected in the discipline I bring to my writing. I am ridiculously intimidated by the blank page and equally frustrated by nonfiction writing’s dependence upon slow research. If I find myself in the middle of writing an essay and realize I need to go back and do more research, I feel like an Everest climber who’s made it half way to the summit, only to realize he didn’t pack enough oxygen to get to the top.
The necessity of having patience in all things makes me a little crazy. I want to jump in head first, roll up my sleeves, and get things done right. At times, patience feels so unproductive that I fool myself into believing that everything would be more fun and/or rewarding if I performed perfectly the first time around. Yet, too often, I overlook the fact that the main reason a flawlessly played Ballade or a well-crafted essay feels so satisfying is due to the work of getting there: without practice, the ligaments in my hands wouldn’t know how far to stretch; my brain wouldn’t rejoice in ideas formed under pressure; my self wouldn’t believe I could be pushed – successfully – to the limits of my abilities, and it wouldn’t even consider taking on the stretch of tougher goals ahead.
This aversion to patience – and what I have to learn from it – has some bearing on my current state of being. After nine months of baby building, I feel I’ve done my time; another week spent in this bubble bodysuit and Playskool will be redesigning Weeble Wobbles to resemble me! This week, I have been willing the pain of contractions, hoping – with little success – that one will lead to another in quick succession. I imagine myself as my body’s spin class instructor, shouting excitedly into my cavernous womb to get moving and lean in to the pain, to let my techno heartbeat put an end to all this pregnancy madness.
Nevertheless, I’ve learned enough about the discipline of waiting to know that there’s good to come on the other side of patience and that these long, impervious days will fade quickly into joy (and relief) as soon as Baby K makes his or her debut. The downside of this is that his or her arrival will only present a long list of more things about which I must be patient, but that’s a worry for another day. And besides, if I had nothing left to learn or wait on, I probably also wouldn’t have anything to write about, and that would be very sad indeed.