January 9

Today's quotation:

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?

Lao-tzu

Today's Meditation:

We have become very impatient people.  Usually we want a problem solved the moment it arises in our lives, and we get upset if something takes a little bit longer to take care of than we expected or wanted.  We want our kids to change their attitudes now, we want our jobs to get better today, and we expect this person to do this task immediately.  In our impatience, though, we very often miss the solutions that life has in mind because we rush things and we don't allow them to take their natural course.

When I have problem students, I usually wait at least a couple of weeks before trying to address problematic behaviors (unless they're threatening to me or others, of course).  I find in almost all of the cases that the problems don't exist after a while because both the student and I have changed our perspectives--I've learned more about them, and they've learned more about me.  If we do need to address the issue, we've had enough time to truly understand the issues involved, and we're not dealing with anything on a truly superficial level.

Sometimes, if we wait, we find out that what we think is a problem isn't one at all, especially if we wait to see how the "problem" plays out.  Many people have been devastated to find out that a loved one is leaving them, only to find out later, after the mud has settled, that the separation is a very positive thing for both parties involved.  One who acts impatiently will try to fix the situation immediately or start to feel sorry for themselves or even try to get back at the person who's leaving.  Patience, though, allows us to accept the situation and then wait to see how it plays out--and what kinds of things life gives to us even as it seems to be taking from us.

Let the mud settle.  Then you can see clearly through the water to the bottom of the river or the pond, and see exactly what the issues are.  Reaching into muddy water usually only stirs up more mud and causes it to take much longer to settle, and it could be dangerous reaching in somewhere that you can't see clearly.  Be patient, and realize that life's time and our time are not necessarily the same thing.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often feel that things need to be solved NOW?

What are some of the benefits of giving things time to settle before we try to deal with them?  What are some possible drawbacks?

Can you apply the metaphor of mud settling to situations that you've experienced?  What did someone do that made things worse?  Better?

For further thought:

One watches the pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit.  Let that person attempt to force the process, and he or she may spoil both fruit and tree.  But let us patiently wait, and the ripe fruit at length falls into our lap.

Abraham Lincoln

more on patience

  

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