Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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When I was a child, my Dad said to me, "Michael, what's your hurry?" I was impatient. I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it NOW. I did not like to "delay gratification."
Over the years, I have watched my impatient self work at becoming more patient. I practiced listening to others without interrupting. "Please get to the point" I sometimes muttered to myself.
I was never labeled ADHD because they didn't have a name for it back then. I am generally not hyperactive. But I am still impatient. I am not great behind slow drivers, and not superb at waiting in long lines at the check-out or the airport.
Having studied journalism for many years, I learned that you can write everything one needs to know in an opening paragraph -- who, what, where, why, when? The "Five W's." I learned that people want to get to the point, and not muddle through a lot of unnecessary, in my opinion, details.
But I have since learned from famous writing teachers, such as Carol Bly, Natalie Goldberg, Charles Nolte, and others, the joy of life is in noticing the details. That includes the flowers, the butterflies, the birds, the leaves, the sunsets, the smiles, the body movements, the subtleties of life.
It is very important now, during this time of COVID-19, for me to be patient. To wait. To be sure it is safe to venture out too far. I am told that I am at risk -- given age and pre-conditions.
As the country begins to relax into opening up again, it is tempting to return to a more balanced and free life. I can understand, on an economic level, that many people are starving and suffering due to business closures. It is horrible.
I am so grateful so many people are feeding others, and helping others in need. Still, long lines exist at many places giving out free meals.
So right now, my job is to live in gratitude, acknowledge that I miss my face-to-face interactions, and work on being the most patient person I can be.
Sue Monk Kidd wrote a marvelous book many years ago called "When the Heart Waits." She talks about the waiting period, before the fruition, the results. It is in the waiting, the incubation, that real discovery occurs. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially impatient folks like me.
So -- I pray that opening up businesses will work to feed the employees, and that customers can come and not become ill with this virus. I pray for respect for scientists and the scientific method. I pray for kindness, respect, compassion and love to pour over this land and everywhere. I pray that each person uses discernment (a spiritual gift) to determine his or her personal and interpersonal actions.
I have worked hard to learn how to postpone gratification.
Going to graduate school helped that process. It really paid off -- but while I was there, it often was a grind.
Anne Wilson Schaef recently passed away. Her book, "Living in Process," taught me to enjoy every second of my life, to appreciate it's complexity and subtleties. I hear the echo of my Dad's voice. He would be 116 now if he were alive. "Michael, you are doing better. Still not perfect. But I appreciate the lack of tantrums and cursing while you wait."
This is a time of waiting, listening, and paying attention. There is so much at stake. At this writing, there are 272 deaths in Minnesota due to COVID-19. I pray we continue to connect in ways that work for us. Social distance walks help.
My hair is growing longer, and I am looking more and more like Albert Einstein. I guess he was a relatively patient guy.
Love and blessings,