Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Perhaps the best that can evolve from impatience is a better capacity for patience.

I say this as a nudge/hope/wish for myself. I really am quite impatient, but the situations I get impatient about don't mind a bit: They just go about their bit-by-bit changes irrespective of my fulminating, foot-stamping get-the-lead-out's.

I once asked the principal of my daughter's then grade school how she, the principal, put up with all the parent-teacher meetings she was forced to attend...the meetings at which every parent knew how to improve school operations and attitudes and where each opinion took scads of time to enunciate ... sincere, heart-felt, liberal, conservative ... blah, blah, blah. How did the principal sit through it all over and over and over again?

"It's easy," the principal told me. "I let them talk until they're worn out and then I tell them what we're going to do."

How I wish I were that grown-up. When someone coo's or clucks, "It's a process, Adam," I can stop my mental gob for a little while and then my impatience gets the better of me: "Just make your mind up, for Christ's sake!"

The proximate cause of this thought process is, perhaps, the attempt to get a small book, "Remembering Soen Nakagawa Roshi," onto the Internet. I wrote to the contributors asking for their permission to reproduce on the Internet what they had already granted permission for in the book. Perhaps a dozen of the 40 contributors replied quickly -- go ahead. But as time passes since the request went out, it seems to be apparent that some have doubts ... or don't read their email ... or have some other reason for not responding. And my impatient nature rear's its head ... get off your ass! It is in no way reasonable or adult -- who knows what reasons anyone might have for not responding? -- but my own efforts and goals are all I can think about.

What a putz. And yet the situation made me realize that I have never been very good about efforts that rely on others -- the democracy of action. I can talk a good 'democracy' game, but where the rubber hits the road ... well, growl and gripe! Why can't others see things my way?! And that line of thought seemed to offer some underpinning for why many of the things I have done in life were not team efforts: If you want things done right, do it yourself ... I tried to adhere to that rule. Unsuccessfully, of course. I may be skeptical -- if not downright scornful -- of team efforts (the agreement factor makes my teeth itch), but sometimes a team is what is required.

Ah well, it's probably too late for me. The kindly grandmother with the understanding smile simply is not a part of my arsenal.

But maybe if I mention it, others can take a lesson from a jackass.

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