Patience is a skill

I love it when people talk about the Mona Lisa and her mysterious smile. They look at that peaceful face and see what, a temptress? Not me. My interpretation of that enigmatic look on her face is just one thing – patience. She’s waiting it out.  Probably reviewing her grocery list in her head.

Think about what her experience must have been like sitting as a model for da Vinci.  It’s the early 1500’s and women are to be seen and not heard. It took him 3 years to complete it, at least that’s the guess, so she sat there a really long time.  To say she didn’t have a choice is probably accurate; I expect by then, though, she had learned the skill of patience.

Patience is a state of being that occurs between experience and reaction. It gives you time to react the way you want rather than an inappropriate automatic response.  It’s how you deal with delays, obstacles and setbacks.   It’s the space between what happens to you and your reaction to what happened.

The power of the universe resides in that empty space.

Patience can look like something else from the outside, as Mona shows us.  Some say she looks seductive with that expression on her face, but really?  She’s just waiting.  I bet she needs to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes patience can look passive. Like you’re simply waiting for life to happen to you, even though on the inside you’re strategizing and laying plans.  Patiently waiting your turn can make you look too shy to assert yourself.   Someone staring into space is patiently waiting for inspiration, not goofing off, which is what it looks like.

When you’re ready to launch off in a new direction and the timing is off, it can be really frustrating.  You feel stuck.  It’s so hard.  Your desire for a new life is driving you, but the universe is stopping you.

As Scott Peck says in The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.”  The reality is, when you accept the eternal truth that things are going to be difficult, then it becomes less difficult because you’re not expecting it to be easy.   It’s a paradox.

One of the ways you deal with that paradox is to learn to be patient.

While you’re being patient, there are always things you can do, even if it’s merely to dream and plan, even if you feel passive or even if you feel like you’re goofing off.  As Arthur Ashe said in the photo above, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Life wants to teach you one thing more before the change kicks in.   It’s time to learn patience.

Next week I’ll teach you how to do that – but you have to be patient!

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