Certainly as we ready ourselves to tear the last month off the calendar, most of us start to toy around with some ideas for resolutions for the coming year. For some, it may involve shedding a few pounds or stopping some type of unhealthy habit. And, while the success rate of actually sustaining life-altering behaviors for the entire next calendar year is probably pretty low overall, that doesn’t stop us from making the effort.
When it comes to resolutions, I think the ones that may very well be the toughest to keep are those where we are expecting of ourselves some denial of a certain component of our personality that has an inexorable link to our very DNA, yet that’s precisely what I’m going to try to do in 2018.
Much has been written dating back to mankind’s earliest times about the acquisition of virtues and the antithetical impediments to those virtues. So, while we may strive for diligence, sloth stands ready to combat our attempts.
For me, one of the impediments that often has prevented me from achieving some sense of serenity has been my impatience, and it’s been a part of who I am from my earliest days. I remember the school-aged me used to rush through homework, doing it as soon as school let out before I headed out to play. And, while that may seem virtuous, I know it wasn’t because I wanted to push myself to the head of my class academically. Instead, I just wanted to get it done as quickly as possible to open up more pleasurable avenues later.
As I advanced to my adult years, there have been many signs that my patience quota has been pretty low. Now, having said that, I do know that my impatience can be a good thing, at least in the eyes of those who are waiting for some sort of payment. For example, I have a basic impatience with any bill that winds up in my mailbox, so much so that I will pay it immediately. One of my great annoyances is when a bill comes on a Saturday because I know even when I write the check, deposit it in an envelope and stamp it and drive it to my go-to mailbox in the car wash on West Elm across from where the American Mall once stood or to the post office, it won’t be moved on down the line until Monday morning.
Of course, my impatience often presents itself when I’m expected to wait on something. When cooking at home, I must admit I’ve eaten food right out of a pan, and if it does reach the plating stage, there have been many times I’ll eat it right over the sink since I know that’s where the plate will wind up anyway.
While driving, you wouldn’t believe the muttering, some of it the blue version, when I’m in bumper-to-bumper interstate traffic or expected to wait on trains to clear crossings. As a Lima resident since 1958, you’d think I’d have gotten more tolerant about our steady stream of trains.
Although only a short wait, I’m also impatient at traffic lights, especially ones I consider superfluous, such as the light on South Cable in front of the entry to LCC’s parking lot. As a west-ender trying to get to a work shift at the Knights of Columbus or that produce sale at Chief, I must contend with this light often. To the east is the lightly traveled Cable Court, yet despite this, even when school isn’t in session or an after-school activity isn’t going on, that light stops the steady flow of Cable traffic at regular intervals. I’d love to see this light on a tripper.
Of course, as many impatient people, I won’t wait longer than 10 seconds on an elevator after I push the button before heading to the stairs. And like all impatient people, I won’t wait on a restaurant table any longer than the couple of minutes it might take a server to wipe a table down and reset it before I head back out the door.
So, as we approach yet another year, I’m going to try hard to combat my impulsiveness and demonstrate more patience. As Seinfeld character Frank Costanza might say, “Serenity now!” I think I’ll start slow, maybe, by placing my first bill of 2018 on a desk and waiting a full 24 hours before getting it in the mail slot. That may not seem like a lot, but baby steps are always necessary before longer strides can be taken.
As A.A. Milne, the English author most noted for his books about everyone’s favorite teddy, Winnie-the-Pooh, once said, “Rivers know this. There is no hurry. We shall get there someday.”
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.