And these are my vices:
impatience, bad temper, wine,
the more than occasional cigarette,
an almost unquenchable thirst to be kissed,
a hunger that isn’t hunger
but something like fear, a staunching of dread
and a taste for bitter gossip
of those who’ve wronged me—for bitterness—
and flirting with strangers and saying sweetheart
to children whose names I don’t even know
and driving too fast and not being Buddhist
enough to let insects live in my house
or those cute little toylike mice
whose soft grey bodies in sticky traps
I carry, lifeless, out to the trash
and that I sometimes prefer the company of a book
to a human being, and humming
and living inside my head
and how as a girl I trailed a slow-hipped aunt
at twilight across the lawn
and learned to catch fireflies in my hands,
to smear their sticky, still-pulsing flickering
onto my fingers and earlobes like jewels.
I love this poem. Good poetry, I think, is honest, and it’s a peek inside someone else’s soul–a peek that also reveals something about the reader, maybe that they didn’t even know about themselves. Her vices are also my vices–some of them anyway. And it makes me think about myself, and what mine are, and how there’s something beautiful in sharing them with others.
Impatience is something I have struggled with my whole life. I have learned that for the most part patience pays off, like when you decide to re-heat pizza in the oven instead of the microwave. But when it comes to being patient with other people–waiting on someone else to do something or complete something–I struggle. It’s hard to slow my pace down to match someone else’s.
It has taken several not-awesome learning experiences to slow down, breathe, and let go of the thought that I’m in control. I am most certainly not and that is for the best for everyone. It’s hard for me to sit in that tension, that anxiety.
Recently my boyfriend went on an 8 day mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I missed him a lot, and the communication black out was hard for me. So impatient was I (and, also I just love surprises) for his return that I drove to the Atlanta airport (both of them.. ugh, Atlanta, why you so crazy?!) to meet him there. I stood in the arrivals area with my little sign positively WRIGGLING with impatience. His flight came in early so I was dancing around for 30 minutes, searching faces coming off the escalator. There were two little boys waiting for their father who exhibited more patience than me.
When their group finally did come of the escalator I didn’t see him. I went up to someone else that I recognized and I was like “Welcome back! Where’s James?!” I ended up completely missing him in the crowd because I was so impatient. He saw me before I saw him and I totally missed that fun little moment of surprised recognition. A small thing, but something I had been looking forward to.
I wish I had been able to calm myself down enough to patiently wait there. I wish I had talked myself down, breathed, and let things happen as they would. Hindsight’s 20/20, right? I can see why they say patience is a virtue.
As I continue my journey through (formal) discernment I’m learning more and more that I definitely need to cultivate patience in my heart, and to let God handle things. It’s really freaking hard, y’all. It’s not like I can just up and decide to go to seminary–other people, the church, are part of this. And I’m sure I will have many, many more opportunities to practice patience in my life, not just waiting at airports or for correspondence from committees.
All those Psalms about “wait for the Lord” make so much sense…