I thought that I was perfect when it came to patience. I was able to commute 3 hours a day (usually more because of traffic and delays) when I was in university, and I did not turn into a raging monster or complain to everyone I knew about it. I thought that I was good at commuting, at being patient. I guess it’s because I had compared myself to family members and friends who would always complain about how long commuting would take or how the bus is always late. I probably shouldn’t have done that. Thinking back, I realized just how much I didn’t like to complain, mainly because of how I had felt whenever somebody was complaining to me. I would feel annoyed, and I would always think, “Well, you made the choice to commute, and you knew that this would happen. So why are you complaining so much?” It’s funny now, because I would complain in my head whenever somebody was complaining to me. Such a hypocrite.
But what I’m trying to say is that I think my tendency to not complain has clouded my perception of how patient I truly am. And I’m definitely not perfectly patient. I’m not even perfect (nobody is, come on). I am human, and I try my best to be as reasonable and compassionate as I can be. It’s tough work. Not only because some people make it difficult, but because you get so wrapped up in your head about how difficult that one person is or how annoying that other person is… And you forget that you’re the one who is feeling that emotion. You’re the one who can change your mind to feel something else, something less destructive and more constructive. I know that’s a cliche, but cliches hold a lot of truth. And in order to truly uncover that truth, you have to live it.
And that’s what happened to me today. After spending the day in Toronto, I took the GO bus home. I knew that it would take longer than usual for me to get to my hometown, what with the snowfall and traffic, so I was fine with that. I wasn’t prepared for what happened after with my transfer bus, though. You always feel a but of anxiety when you make that transfer, because what if you miss it by 10 seconds? You have to wait 10 minutes for the next bus. And that’s what happened to me. Except I didn’t miss the transfer at all; I got to the station on time. It was the bus that missed me.
The bus that was scheduled didn’t show up on time. Normally, I would have called and gotten a ride from somebody at home. But no, I wanted to prove to myself that I was a better, more patient person. So I whipped out Eat, Pray, Love and read for at least 10 minutes. I didn’t even check my phone for the time. I thought to myself, “I’m so good at commuting. I’m so good at being patient.” But then, I realized that the bus was never going to come. I had thought that it would be several minutes late, but the heavens decided to laugh at me. It’s like I could hear God saying, “Oh, you think you’re that patient? Let’s see what happens with this.”
It turns out that the bus would never arrive. The next scheduled bus would appear, though, 30 minutes later but on time. But boy, was I fuming. I was trying so hard to keep it together, to laugh it off like it was nothing. But I couldn’t help but start drafting the witty yet damning letter I would write to the transit system. I wouldn’t and couldn’t bring myself to be rude to the driver, I admit. And so I had to find a way to blow off some steam.
And when I got off the bus, something happened. I was fine. I didn’t want to yell at someone anymore. Was I finally getting over the anger? Was I finally beginning to control my thoughts and emotions in a positive way? Or was I just exhausted and wanted to see my dog? Probably all three. There’s nothing quite like unconditional love and unlimited kisses from a pet. But it was like I was cured! I didn’t understand it, but I think I do now. I was so focused on directing my anger at somebody that I ignored the fact that kindness can make that feeling go away. And I did make an effort to smile throughout the whole ordeal, to talk to the other people waiting in line, to make small talk with my neighbours. I think that little bit of effort, that conscious decision to flip that situation on its head, that helped me let go of that anger.
Maybe that’s the key to patience, then.