Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cultivating Patience...

"I'm afraid," I say to L., who is also a chaperone on this overnight excursion to the Boston Museum of Science, "that this is my life lesson: patience." Two kids run past us toward the next exhibit and I continue. "I mean, if I'm lucky, what do I have, maybe 50 more years in this lifetime? Like if I'm really lucky, right?" L. nods in agreement and opens her palm to receive a hit-and-run half a muffin someone abandons on their way to the Live Animals show. "I don't think that's enough time," I say in all seriousness, and the statement alone is worth a little stomach ache that blooms in my belly. "I mean, I'm infinitely patient with other people--it's not that."

"Yes," she adds seamlessly, "just not with yourself. Not with the process." She is exactly right.

"Right!' I intone and brighten slightly at this new evidence of our solidarity. "Like I can't trust the things I want to have happen to come about, of their own accord and as a result of my earnest effort. And God forbid it's something I can't control." L. nods sagaciously--seems calm about my predicament of being in danger of not learning my big 'life lesson' of patience fast enough (yes, I do acknowledge the irony but can do nothing to counter it).  For me, on the other hand, a buzzing little current of fear rises along my spine; it is a familiar sensation. "Like I can't let go," I add.

And with a gesture toward her own body, palms upward, fingers spread and scooping the air in the direction of her heart, L. revises: "Or rather, like you can't let them come." And that is the truth of it, I realize in a mild epiphany. One punctuated by the loud cracks of man-made lightning coming from inside the "Theatre of Electricity". I can't seem to let them come to me, these things that I would attract. It is as if all my buzzing and fearful and controlling energy creates a kind of shield that deflects these things that I would otherwise attract to me, and here is my truth pulsing softly, coming alive under the dim light of my infant attention. Beginning of a journey, I acknowledge, mark of a new phase. Thank goodness. Phase of gradual lightening, in all senses of the word, that follows the heaviness and struggle of a growth period. O gratitude. O relief and wash of hope!

The entire conversation is spawned by visiting the Bonsai Room of the museum, where we witness the 75 year progression in photos of a bonsai tree that sits before us now, all abloom with bougainvillea. A tiny tree that someone has groomed for 75 years. I look at the eleven-year photo. In it, the tree looks dead--I would doubtless have abandoned it then, or in the 20-year photo, where it looks small and stunted, but at 40, the tree begins to show its beauty again, and now, before is a wonder. I get the fleeting idea to take up bonsai, and of course, let it go as quickly as it arrived to me, watch it gallop past on its way back to the land of ridiculous and desperate ideas. No, I think. I'll just be still.Open myself to this new knowing, cognizant that there is no time-lapse photography here. Only slow-moving time and my tacit agreement. Yes, I say. And please.

"Stillness is the altar of the spirit," said Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, and while it is true that I nearly got in an altercation with a girl scout leader first thing this morning over bathroom priveleges, I have coffee now and I feel relatively relaxed. The kids are all lined up in a row for the planetarium show, and the celestial expanse over Boston lights itself in a dome overhead, while the rest of the lights soften until all is dark save the stars and planets and the green glow over the announcer's face. I begin to practice patience by being still. I begin it now, here, accompanied by a jocular and friendly voice narrating a journey through space. I breathe and I nurture the tree of my desire where it grows, in fits and starts, here--in my earthly body. In this, my heart.

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