patience is peace

Patience isn’t one of my finest traits. My impatience has been a lifelong trait. After trick-or-treating as a kid, my sister would organize her candy and ration it out until Christmas. I, on the other hand, was out of candy within a week. It wasn’t about stuffing my face with sugar, it was about a finely-honed, self-sabotaging practice of impatience.

Patience is a weakness for me. I like to pretend I am practicing Zen by focusing on the “now,” but I know I’m telling myself a tall tale and twisting the sacred point about living in the present moment.

My husband balances me out. He is an incredibly patient man. He slows me down when I need it, and I hurry him up when he’s contemplated for too long. It’s been a rewarding dance of quick, quick, slow over the last 12 years and these days, we’re working to figure out how to stay in rhythm with our ever-moving goal. A goal that determines how quickly or slowly we should dance towards it.

It seems that patience is the primary lesson in this phase of our adventure. Waiting for the adventure to actually begin. We have been in escrow with our house since early August. The buyer requested extensions on inspections, then the work itself exceeded time (and money) estimations, the appraiser was delayed in assessing the property and then missed a paperwork filing deadline. Each week for the last few weeks, we’ve expected the close date to be that Friday, only learning the day before that there was a new glitch, pushing the close date to the following Friday.

Anticipating that tomorrow would be the official—its-gonna-happen—close date, we’ve sped up our dance and cleared out the clutter and comforts leaving our house nearly empty. We still have our dining room table, where we’ve set up command central, a squeaky 20-year old full-size mattress and random loose ends we’re either selling or giving away to friends. Much to our dismay, but not our surprise, just about three hours ago, we learned that the buyer is behind in providing a critical piece of tax information to her lender and the close date has been pushed out another week. Again.

This ongoing delay even has my amazingly patient husband fidgeting with anticipation. After a less than 5-minute conversation about what to do with this newest setback, we decided not to wait any longer and move forward with the next phase of our journey.

It wasn’t part of our plan to leave still tethered to the house. We both had visions of debts paid in-full, close papers signed and a hand-written “the world or bust” sign in the back window of our rental car. That last part was probably only my vision. For months, I’ve fantasized about the feeling of being totally liberated as we drove across the Oregon/California border. This fantasy has fueled me in sluggish and blue times during the last year and now, we must re-envision the moment of departure.

It’s okay. While I may struggle with patience, I’m pretty good with flexibility. We both are. 

It is interesting to realize that this dragged out escrow has been a gift—a calm before the chaos of travel—and still we’ve been itchy the entire time. Struggling to be present with the moment as it is, without wanting it to be different in some way. We’ve had so many attachments to the close date, that we’ve made ourselves a little nutty. We have been successful doing, but not so much, being. Before the close date, our attachment was the to agreement with the buyer, before that having offers on the house, careers, planting roots, expectations of family ...

There will always be something to attach to, the trick is remaining untethered and present.

I suspect we will look back on these quiet months of waiting with envy during moments when we’re surrounded by masses of people pushing and pulling us through temples and train stations, begging and bartering. Maybe not. But, knowing myself, I will fully comprehend this moment’s lesson at another moment, someday in the near future, when all I want is a little space to collect my thoughts. It will dawn on me, like the blinding morning sun peeking over an Eastern mountain … patience is peace.