the freedom of patience: losing wait

Perspective is among the defining aspects of our days and nights, offering myriad ways to endure what cannot be changed. Why is it, then, that some people consistently face the clock with equanimity and acceptance, while others fight reality with the relentlessness of a watch’s hyperactive second hand? LosingWait2

Two people find themselves in stultifying rush-hour traffic, each needing to attend a key meeting, yet it looks like they’ll be late. (Sure, the easy answer is to simply leave earlier, yet so many no-fault things can interfere with that obvious goal.) One of them constantly cuts in and out of traffic, airbrushing cars right and left, and perpetually instigating the seeds of road rage, with all of that activity gaining a whopping quarter-mile “advantage” after half an hour. The other calls ahead to notify colleagues that he’ll be 30 minutes late, and asks whether the meeting can be delayed or promises to do whatever it takes to catch up with what is missed. He then uses the extra time to make hands-free calls that he’d otherwise have to get done while at the office, or listens to an engrossing audio book or language-learning CD. His blood pressure remains within safe levels and his day is that much richer, generally absent of stress-induced barking.

A first-time television documentary director has a compelling project at hand for which she feels altogether passionate. Trying to raise the $925,000 production cost continues to mean enduring a tiny shared apartment, no vacation time, a minimal food budget and little rest. Twenty-nine months later, not only does she see it to fruition, but it’s nominated for an Emmy—providing the recognition and springboard that enables a $6 million film documentary.

Overarching goals pursued with discipline and passion can offer tangible freedom from fleeting and ultimately meaningless concerns. Patience is the stamped envelope that carries a given project to completion, that enables focus, that mitigates stress, that can access the bestseller lists. Here’s how two veteran tech journalists patiently persevered for 18 months to gain the cooperation of Apple Computer—among the world’s most valuable and protective companies—for their book, Becoming Steve Jobs.

The next time you’re waiting in traffic late for a meeting, or are waiting for a carefully considered plan’s components to gel, try stepping back for the larger perspective. On the fulfillment scale, discover lightness as a byproduct of all that lost wait.