The Schedule of Patience

Louis Untermeyer got more letters from Robert Frost than anyone else.

Mr. Untermeyer, a jeweler turned editor, didn’t see eye to eye with Mr. Frost on many political and social matters. But the two men shared a love of poetry. And that mattered enough for a 50-year correspondence.

In May of 1916, Mr. Frost wrote Mr. Untermeyer a somewhat tongue-in-cheek letter. Here’s one of the crowning lines:

“Chief occupation (according to Who’s Who) pursuit of glory; most noticeable trait, patience in the pursuit of glory.”

Nothing tongue-in-cheek about it: patience is a noticeable trait. It’s easy to lose and hard to re-find. Or find at all.

My patience is in short supply if there’s a difference between where I am and where I want to be. It’s an in-between spot I didn’t plan for; the dictionary describes it as “restless in desire.”

If our desires are worthwhile, they will – as designer Debbie Millman says – take a while. No matter how fast our world moves, the worthwhile matters of relationships, healing, children, careers, and beyond always have and always will take time.

We might not see eye to eye with that timeframe. But patience asks a different schedule of us than what we had in mind; the pursuit of glory doesn’t happen overnight.

Yet life doesn’t start when we arrive at glory. Patience is not weathering the pursuit for the big payoff: patience is being in this moment – in all its in-between, unplanned, restless glory – now.

It’s not a bad chief occupation.

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