Saturday, October 6, 2012

Waiting Versus Patience - Lessons From A Labyrinth

We often use the  words waiting and  being patient  interchangeably. We wait on the phone for a real live person and are thanked for our patience. We ask our children to wait for us to get off the phone and ask them to be patient. We wait at lights, at the doctor's office and in line at the bank and all these things certainly try our patience! 

This week I learned how different they can be as I had the opportunity to revisit a labyrinth. 


This time last year was my first walk in a labyrinth and this is how I explained it ( You can read the full post in Brainstorming  Nov 29th 2011.)


 A labyrinth is different from a maze in both design and purpose. Unlike a maze a labyrinth is not designed for entertainment. It has only one way in and out. It has no high walls or dead ends and can take different forms, but always has a center from which you can see where you have come from and where you are going.
Taking a walk into a labyrinth and out again is like a meditation on the move. You put one foot in front of another, following a path that winds back and forth close to the center and out again. You let your mind relax and your thoughts pass freely through your consciousness, until you find yourself right in the heart of your journey. At this point you take time to contemplate your route and your insights before making your way out again. The way out is no more straight forward than the way in. The path bends and turns. Sometimes you find yourself in the outer rim and think you have nearly reached the end and then just as quickly you seem to be winding back to the center, feeling that perhaps you have made little progress at all. 

This year as I took the same walk through the same labyrinth, what came to me was a new insight. I suddenly understood  how different it is to wait for something versus being patient for something and that although I felt I had just been waiting, what I was actually doing was being patient.

This was very clear as I moved along the labyrinth's path. I needed to be patient in order to reach the center of the labyrinth. There were many twists and turns and often when I seemed so close to the center, the path wound back to the outer rim. But I was definitely not still waiting at the entrance. I was moving all the time, moving forward, keeping my eye on the goal whilst going with the flow of the path.

To me this was truly profound. If you have ever wondered if you are going to reach your goal or worried whether parts of your life will ever improve, sometimes it feels as though the waiting will never end. But if you actually look at the small steps you have taken along the way, you realize you are not in the same place you were a year ago, six m onths ago or even 2 weeks ago.
While waiting is about being still  and  passive, patience is about being active in making a choice to give something time to unfold. 

Often waiting for the traffic signal, for your turn at Starbucks or for an answer to an email, involves someone else making the decision about when your waiting is over. However  if you are being patient you can still be on the move and in control. 

In the past year Jonny spent a lot of time waiting. He waited for better news, less pain from his trigeminal neuralgia, more energy and less pharmacological side effects and I waited with him. I also waited for him to come out of brain surgery, to wake up from frequent naps, to make me tea, to be pain free. But during that time we were still moving forward. We found new doctors, better solutions, drugs with less side effects. I began writing this blog and our kids who were also waiting for these things went about their business; starting college, finding internships and summer jobs getting good grades, training to be an EMT and firefighter, having birthdays and celebrating holidays.

After all that has happened, I now understand the expression "patience is a virtue." and that I am not waiting for things to change I am just being patient.

And so are you.

Gilly


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10 comments:

  1. Beautiful insight. May your patience continually be rewarded.

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  2. Thank you Bill- I always appreciate your comments. May all your generous feedback be rewarded too! Gilly

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  3. Bracha Leora FensterOctober 6, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Night falls. Sometimes we wait and sometimes we patiently move beyond sunset.. Thank you so much for sharing this insight.

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    1. Bracha-Thank you very much for reading Brainstorm and for your beautiful comment. Yes, moving beyond waiting is the key to action and that often takes patience and perseverance I think.
      Gilly

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  4. This is so true. Patience is getting on with things while the end result takes it time in arriving. Waiting is just a waste of time. I'd not thought of it this way before.

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    1. Rachel, I agree with you but we all have to do our share of waiting nonetheless. At least now we can check our emails/FB while we are doing so.
      Gillyx

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  5. I never thought of PATIENCE like this!! This blog hits very close to home for me!!

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    1. Lisa- thank you for your comment.I am glad it resonated with you. I think it's quite a relief to think that you have chosen to be patient rather than to just have been waiting for whatever it is that has not happened yet.
      Thank you for reading Brainstorm.I hope you will visit again.
      Gilly

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  6. I do believe life is more of a labyrinth than a maze. You end up where you are supposed to be.

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    1. Well I would like to think so Corey! A maze is designed to trip you up and confuse you.It has high walls and dead ends. The expectation with a labyrinth is that following the path from the center to the exit is as important as making your way to the center.You can always see your goal and the path guides you. A labyrinth is much more comforting and inviting.Thanks for commenting.
      Gilly

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