March 19, 2012

Virtues I Don’t Have…Yet

Virtues I Don’t Have…Yet

How poor are they that have not patience! What would did ever heal but by degrees?

~ William Shakespeare, Othello

It’s a funny thing about doctors, we often assume and live our lives like illness and injury is a thing we are immune to. It’s not that we don’t know that we actually get sick and hurt, it’s just that we seem to be able to effectively separate these part of our thoughts from the reality of our experience much of the time.

Obviously, in the long run, the illusion will always get broken.

When it does, doctors might be the most impatient patients on the planet. Once we have accepted (if only marginally) that something is wrong, we assume – we expect – our bodies to behave differently and oh-so-much-better than those of our patients. I know I would tell my patient this will take a week to heal, but I’ll be better tomorrow. Admit that if you are a doctor reading this now that you think that even if you won’t say it out loud.

I admit all the time that I am not very patient. Personally I don’t know what pace would suit me in the world, but what I know is that I like results and I don’t really like to wait. It was much worse when I was younger and it frankly used to make me anxious – I am much much better now (nothing like motherhood to cultivate patience!), but on a scale that goes from 0-10 (with 0 being “must-have-result-immediately-or-I will-explode” and 10 being patience of an Zen Master) I am probably only a 5 or 6 on my best days.

When it comes to myself…well…maybe a 4.

I injured my left leg about 5 days ago skiing in the Alps. People I know and trust have said 2 weeks…but it is SO very tempting to dismiss them and put on my shoes and run. A big dose of Advil and some stretching aught to do the trick, right? And we can all live with a little pain…

I felt good enough last night that I optimistically put my shoes at the end of the bed thinking maybe just a little tiny slow run this morning…

I nearly collapsed on my face getting out of my bed.

Injuries call upon us to be patient.

They ask us to wait, to put on hold, to suspend things that we want to do – sometimes things we have to do – until they are healed. And healing takes time. Despite the best of medicine, some things cannot be rushed.

Yet the temptation is always there.

Practicing patience is a conscious undertaking for me. I try to listen to – and override – the thoughts in my head that constantly whisper go-go-go. I try to think that they are the child and my “better judgement” is the adult and I can say no and my little impatient self can sulk over there in the corner until it’s all over.

Some days are better than others!

Sometimes the effort to be patient feels extraordinary. I am restless. Inner stillness takes energy and effort and comes at a cost. Other days it is easier. Today is not one of those days.

I worry too about another price of waiting. I have not been running long. There is some truth to the fact that our ability to stick to a habit after a setback has some sort of proportional relationship to the length of time we have done the activity. If you have been running for 20 years, a week off will feel like forever, but you will go back. If you have been running for a week, a week off might be enough to keep you from ever running again. I am in-between. And since I don’t yet think of running as an integral part of who I am, the longer I wait, the more “at-risk” I feel.

It’s times like this that I ask myself: what is the relationship between who we are and what we do? When does the think you do become part of who you are – and how does that help us stay the course. An injured runner will certainly run again when the injury is gone (or sooner) because they can’t see themselves not doing it. But I am close enough to being a non-runner that I know exactly what that looks and feels like. So for me, it is a choice.

So I will wait – and I will heal. I’ll take the advice I would give and I’ll do my best to adhere to it. I will probably not wait with great patience. And I will choose to keep running because I have said that I will and I am bound and determined to stick with this and see where it takes me.

Here’s to limping through Monday…





Leave a comment
  1. Dawn
    March 20, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Good for you, patience, while difficult, will be rewarded! 🙂

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      March 20, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      I hope so! Otherwise I’m going a little crazy for nothing 🙂

      • Dawn
        March 21, 2012 at 11:50 am #

        Lol! (Hey, we are ALL a little crazy! ;-).It helps with having children! )

        • Jacqueline Jacques
          March 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

          Well – at least they give me an excuse!