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Friday, May 30, 2014

Zen and the Art of Starting Today


Today, my bowl of oatmeal may have been my best.

I was patience, stirring the pot, slowly lowering the flame until it flickered off. I was not in a hurry. I did not sleep well last night but waited until the alarm that is set for no reason other than habit.

I had patience and could only remember that like now, my patience is killing me. I could think only of a snowy morning in Germany where two train tracks crossed, not in a town or village but at a point. There were two shelters. It was cold and I stood in one waiting to transfer to the next train to my ultimate destination. I wrote in my journal that I was patient and that it was a good thing. A black US soldier in a white winter uniform, smoked white against the white and I would not have noticed him in the other shelter if he had not stomped his feet in the cold of a snowy German winter morning.

It is now forty years later and with the exception of my oatmeal, I think my patience, my ability to wait patiently is killing me. While I stirred, I thought back on all that I had waited for and unlike the train that morning, things, people events never came until I moved on. My patience is wearing thin and even now I will not have control and I will be forced to move on.  

But for a moment, setting aside what will be to what is, I decided to not add my walnuts and cinnamon and maple flavored sugar-free syrup until the oatmeal was in my bowl and only then would I mix it in.


That is different than other mornings. Like the patience of stirring slowly and reducing the flame until it was out and enjoying what maybe my best bowl of oatmeal, this morning is different. But I am confused this morning because patience made a wonderful breakfast, but it is also killing me and it brought me to this point where I had a night where I could not sleep.

If you are like me, you are asking yourself "How did patience try to kill him?"

I am not sure, but I believe it was patience that kept me from writing words on a page. I think it was patience working at my job and raising a family that kept me from telling a story. I think it was patience that let me get this old and find myself at the door with little to show. I think it was patience that kept me waiting for love or looking for the right moment, of seeking the best view or feeling the most comfortable.

I think that if I do move forward, it was not due to the silence or patience but the nervous movement of impatience.

20 years at a job, 10 months wandering through Europe, 30 years as a father, 45 years with a bank, 25 years with this old pair of jeans. Patience seems to be acceptance that even though it is bad now, with patience, it will improve and I think this morning that is a lie. Patience is not "the Now" but it hopes on the "Will Be".  

Impatience grabs the now, shakes it, slaps its face maybe chokes it and does something now.

Impatience moves forward backwards, sideways, up down, but it moves. Like that day in the snow in the morning of a German winter day, when patience was freezing our hands and feet, thankfully the train of impatience came along and moved us each in our own direction