“Let go of what you think life should be so you can experience the life you have.” ~Rhonda Britten
In yoga teacher training class last night, we talked about impatience and what causes impatience in each of us. As we talked, it became clear that impatience arises for each of us when we have expectations that life “should” be different in some way. Our impatience is a desire to be out of our current moment and in some other one somewhere else (usually a fantasy one).
For me, my biggest sources of impatience revolve around time—traffic jams that make the drive go more slowly than I think it “should,” meetings that take longer or are less productive than I think they “should” be, conversations that take longer than they “should” because the other person is slow to understand my point (which probably is more about my poor communication skills most of the time than a true slowness on their part) or because the other person is talking more than I think they “should.” In every case, I am wanting out of the present moment, which seems to be taking too long, so I can move on to something else in my future. That’s sort of the antithesis of my desire as a yogini to live in the present moment as much as possible.
I’m not sure I can kick the impatience habit overnight just from this realization, but I did decide that perhaps I could at least spend a few moments noticing the times when I do feel impatient and looking for the “should” that underlies it so I can start to notice patterns. I had just such an opportunity this morning.
As I mentioned, traffic jams are one of those things that do cause me to become impatient. Unfortunately, the whole side of town on which I live seems to be under road construction, with new outbreaks appearing constantly faster than the spread of the bubonic plague. To keep it even more entertaining, the construction plan appears to have been developed by throwing random darts at a map for any given day. So any given road may or may not be undergoing repaving on any given day … today it is, tomorrow traffic appears to be back to normal, but Friday the road is shut down again. Traffic patterns change (at seeming random) from day to day, and we are frequently given the opportunity (note the sarcasm) to drive on half constructed roads with manholes sticking out of the partially constructed road, large dropoffs on the edge of where they started (or stopped) paving, barrels that migrate into the middle of traffic lanes, and myriad other road hazards to dodge to keep our cars from being destroyed.
It makes the trip to and from work or class or just about anywhere else in town a regular challenge.
So this morning I was headed to work and already running a little late only to discover another new outbreak of road construction in an area I thought was already finished. (Surprise!) I didn’t even make it out of my neighborhood when everything ground to a halt. Sigh. As I explored one of my circuitous back ways to get to work (and lucky only encountered known road construction the rest of the way), I started thinking about what my “shoulds” are around road construction. Here’s what I came up with:
- Road construction should never be needed on any roads that I need to travel on. Those roads should magically remain in perfect condition at all times with no maintenance required.
- Alternatively, road construction should occur only at night and happen instantaneously so as to never leave the road in a state of disrepair or partially completed state during the day.
- Both of which really come down to the idea that road construction and maintenance should never inconvenience me in any way at all. Ever.
Are you laughing as hard as I was by the time I got to work? So maybe I need to at least rein my “shoulds” back in to something approximating a potential reality, eh?
I may not have conquered impatience, and I may not have figured out how to do realistic expectations yet, but I must say that I get better and better at being able to laugh at myself as I get older. And as a side benefit, I discovered that laughing at myself dissolved (almost all) of the impatience this morning!
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