Hello and welcome to this glorious Thursday, March 18, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
As many of you know, I recently acquired a digital camera (thank you, DC!). For years, I wanted to photograph this incredibly diverse and interconnected world. Now that I have the ability, for whatever reason, I feel inspired to focus primarily on birds. I want to clarify here that I still love cats, cats are where it’s at. But the birds are calling, and I must go. (A little fun with a Muirism there 😊)
Learning how to use a sophisticated piece of equipment like a digital camera is an ongoing process. At this moment I would have to say that I’m a wet behind the ears, green, beginning novice. This slow process is exactly the way it should be and I’m not arguing with this reality. I’m actually enjoying the learning process. What I do find myself occasionally arguing with are the flighty birds. Whenever I have my camera in hand, the birds are like, “No Way! We are not sticking around for this guy.” Despite their skittishness, I sometimes get lucky. What I’m discovering is that it’s far more beneficial to let them fly to where you are as opposed to trying to chase them down. This philosophy seems to apply to many other aspects of life. In bird photography, I’m finding that it’s best to wait where you are and be patient.
Knowing that I need to be patient and having the ability to do so are two different things. I’m getting better at being patient in most situations. Nevertheless, when I’m out doing something as fulfilling and exciting as photographing these remarkable winged people, I experience feelings and thoughts demanding that something happen, meow! As I wait patiently, I notice corporeal tension and associated intrusive thoughts begging for some bird action. I was recently reminded that if I’m sitting somewhere, tapping my foot, feeling anxious, hoping that something will hurry up and happen, this is not being patient. This is impatience. Being patient means that you are happy, content, and peaceful - you are not waiting, for anything.
My mindfulness practice is helping me develop this nourishing virtue of patience. As it turns out, I don’t have to wait for anything. It’s ironic: we can be so stressed, filled with tension and anxiety and beg the universe for a respite – a short break to catch our breath. Yet, when we get stuck in a traffic jam (remember, you are traffic) or in a slow-moving grocery line (remember, you are the line), we seldom use this as a moment to take a break. Instead, it often adds to our stress and anxiety. Why not use this time to breathe, relax for a moment, and to simply look around? I realize we have tight schedules but being impatient exacerbates the anxiety. We can surrender to the reality and enjoy the pause.
In thinking about situations where the time component extends beyond a few minutes or even hours, “waiting” for news about this or that, can be harmful to your well-being. I can recall many times where I was told to be patient, and I was anything but. Patience is a nourishing state. Worrying about or entertaining looping thoughts regarding what may or may not happen is a waste of energy that can ultimately lead to health consequences over time. Whatever the situation, as the time unfolds until the answer reveals itself, we can engage with whatever is in front of us. If or when impatient thoughts and feelings arise, we can call to mind all the previous occasions where we made it through the “waiting” process unscathed. I’m reminded of a William James quote here:
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
As convincing as thoughts can be, they are just thoughts. A meditation and mindfulness practice can help you to pay attention to what you choose to tend to. You don’t have to be a slave to your impatient thoughts. I’m here to help.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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