In recent weeks I’ve been engaged in a running conversation with a friend about their abundance of patience and my apparent lack of it. This particular friend is almost always right so I thought I’d reflect on the disappearance of my patience. Did I ever have any or is my lack of it merely symptomatic of my descent into grumpy old manhood?
I seem to recall having an abundance of it as a child; Sunday afternoon walks with my father and brother searching for bird’s nests. I hasten to add that we only ever looked at the nests and didn’t remove the eggs. On one trip we spent 90 minutes looking for the nest of a yellowhammer that we’d observed flying to and from a small group of bushes. We eventually found it! Other Sunday walks involved picking fruit from the hedgerows certain that our patience would be rewarded with an apple and blackberry pie later that day. As a child my favourite sport was cricket where patience is a necessity and during the summer holidays we’d stay in my great aunt’s cottage in Garrigill where I’d spend hours fishing for small trout in the South Tyne. After spending almost two weeks dropping a fly on the nose of a trout I’d spotted and constantly failing to tempt it to rise, it finally dawned on me that if I could see the fish then there was a good chance the fish could see me! The time spent in my futile battle with the fish didn’t feel wasted; I’d enjoyed the experience and my patience had taught me a valuable lesson.
Too many years later I was learning how to perform home haemo-dialysis in the old unit at Salford Royal. After a difficult start I patiently followed the instructions of the two nurses who trained me, Bernie and Margaret. Yes, the whole process was a drag and massively disruptive to me and my family but I understood that I’d regain a measure of control over my life once I started to dialyse at home. After a few months of training Bernie informed the administrative staff at the unit that I was ready to start home haemo-dialysis and arrangements to have the dialysis machine installed should commence. Unfortunately the request wasn’t acted upon and the installation was delayed. While the delay was frustrating I remained patient, keeping my mind focussed on the day that I didn’t have the 50 mile round trip to the dialysis unit to contend with as well as working full time.
So where did my patience go? Is it the times we live in where everthing has to be available immediately and it is almost expected that you have to work unhealthily long hours to be deemed a success? I know I spend too many hours watching my social media feeds flashing across the my laptop screen but I do it because I believe in what I and others are trying to achieve. Actually, I don’t think my patience went anywhere, it’s still here keeping me going and helping me to remember the ultimate aim despite the occasional frustrations caused by a percieved lack of progress. I’m lucky that I have a friend to remind me what that ultimate aim is and, when my patience does wear thin, that determination, commitment and an ability to see the bigger picture will see me through.