Rolling Greens is a beautiful nursery in Culver City, CA that I used to love visiting when I lived on the Westside of LA. Located at the top of a steep hill, it can only be accessed via a very narrow and barely paved road.
One day on my way up said hill, I noticed a woman behind me who took tailgating to a new level. She was relentless, and I could see her aggravation with me building in my rear view mirror. I wasn’t trying to go slow, but I was in a low station wagon, and the road wasn’t built for speed. As we pulled in to the parking lot of the nursery, she whipped around me in her mini SUV, and as I parked my car, I was startled by the crash of pottery shattering. When I looked over to see what in the world had happened, I saw that in her haste to get around me, ding dong failed to hit the brakes quickly enough and slammed straight into the front of the nursery, crushing all of the large urns they had on display. As the staff raced out of the store and began asking questions, I overheard her say, “I have no idea what happened!” It took everything in me not to trot over and say, “I do!” I just moseyed on in, grateful that I wasn’t the one who did it, because it could easily have been me.
Practicing patience can be a serious undertaking of deep breathing and the mindfulness of a saint. I’m not that good at it, so I’ve learned to rely on a more simple and easy approach: choose your battles and examine why you are trying to fight them in the first place. For example, I lose patience when I’m trying to get my kids ready and in to the car to go to school. One day it occurred to me that there are toddlers being trotted off to preschool, not interviewing for Dartmouth. So what if they are a little bit late? Taking a moment to be silly and tickle my son after he’s asked me five times to do so might be worth more in the long run than an extra few minutes of circle time after me yelling at him to get going because we are running late. He doesn’t know what being late means, he just thinks I’m being mean. Similarly, I used to get really impatient at work with anyone who would walk into my office just to chat. Closing myself off like a hermit only makes me difficult to work with, while being patient and taking the time to get to know my coworkers paid dividends when collaborating on projects felt more like a labor of love than effort.
As for my gal at the nursery, I can only wonder what had her in such a hurry. Was she experiencing some sort of emergency that required potted plants in a flash? Who knows. I just suspect that if we all took a deep breath and put our impatience into perspective, we would realize that it isn’t really worth it. Practice patience today in all things you do.