“Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.” Plautus (254-184 B.C.)
What a wise fellow Plautus was! He was a playwright in ancient Rome, so he surely knew a thing or two about trouble and how to handle it. His remedy may not be the flashiest or the most appealing, but in the end, it may be the most useful.
Patience. Let’s ponder it for a moment. Simply defined, it’s “calm and uncomplaining endurance,” and “quiet perseverance.” Definitely not flashy qualities — more like sturdy shoes we put on when we plan to go for a long walk. They’re comfortable, dependable, and unassuming — and most important, they get us where we want to go.
What gifts does patience bring us in our writing? A few spring to mind:
The gift of time: When we take patience with our work, when we don’t rush it or crush it to fit a predetermined model of what it should be, we give it time to evolve, to change and grow into its perfect expression.
The gift of gathering: Sometimes we have just the faintest whisper of an idea — a frisson — a hint of something that intrigues or even irritates us. If we brush it aside, then we may lose it forever. But if we let it sit for a while, other ideas may join it, each connection making our original glimmer brighter and stronger. Soon or later, we have something solid to tackle and develop.
The gift of play: When we bring patience to our creative endeavors, we have time to play and daydream about them, without pressure or the drive to generate results. We simply drift on the tide of our imagination and let it take us where it wants to go. Who knows what wonders we might chance upon. But playing takes time — and patience.
The gift of planting: When we bring patience to our work, we can think of ideas as seeds we’re planting. We can water them with our attention and imagination, and then leave them hidden for a while so the sun of inspiration can shine with “quiet perseverance” until they begin to grow. With care and devotion, they may bloom and create a bit of beauty and joy in the world.
“Patience is the perfect prayer” a wise friend said recently. How true this is. Let’s see if we can cultivate its gifts as we all write on!