Patience is a virtue I've been chasing my whole life. I just wish it didn't take so long, you know?
Stripping varnish from an old, wooden bed frame, I starting with a low grit sandpaper then a finer one until the old wood was smooth and new. I was methodical.
I applied just enough stain to "stain" the wood and no more. "Little by little," I kept reminding myself as I pulled the brush along the grain. Music played in the background. The garage floor still had leaves on it, blown in from the fall wind. It was cold, and I tried to slow my heartbeat as I watched my breath escape in a cloud.
Everyone should have a hobby; mine is the search for patience.
Patience is a virtue I've been chasing my whole life. I just wish it didn't take so long, you know? This is an important trait, especially if you are a parent or ever want to drive somewhere without committing murder.
When my 4-year-old insisted on folding up her own soft taco, I protested but agreed. In her first bite, the filling dumped onto the table and floor. For some reason, food never lands on the plate.
"Patience," I told myself. I like to recall that old adage: Fold someone's taco, he'll eat well for a day. Teach a man to fold a taco, he'll eat well for a lifetime. Or, at least on Taco Tuesday.
And when my 6-year-old decides she wants to be the one to read the bedtime story, I say yes (and remind myself to be patient), even though it means we'll all get a little restless. But I want her to learn, and if there's an interest, I always encourage action.
The older you get, the better you understand how the accumulation of time changes things. Maybe it's putting a little money aside and watching it grow. Or it could be how regrets and embarrassments that once haunted you as you tried to fall asleep start to seem so far away and unimportant.
When the stain dried, I sanded the wood lightly and applied another coat. I painted another part of the bed frame, sanding any imperfection away between each coat. When it was finished, it looked great. But looking at it, I realized the satisfaction wasn't in the finished product, it was in the freezing cold of the garage when I was doing the work.
I came to terms with the fact, one day, I'll be nostalgic to watch my little girl spill her taco all over the floor.
One day, I will miss sounding out words with my daughter before bedtime.
Patience, I believe, isn't the art of enduring long periods of time. It is the art of enjoying each step.
Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @DaveManley