The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider

I said the other day, I need to learn how to wait again. To wait well, that is. It’s not so much as the art of delayed gratification (adjusting my expectations in exchange for personal satisfaction, i.e. what might I gain for this, which is selfish, really), but understanding that the universe has its own pace, and that it is not always in sync with mine. It is patience. Forbearance. Faith that it will happen, that it will fall into place, and if it doesn’t, to believe anyway, because the act of waiting is a journey in itself, where one gathers strength.

How do I say this—I suppose, I want to be able to temper my restlessness, to turn that energy into something useful. I think waiting is, in the most fundamental sense, not a lack of action, but a respect for time. One can still do things, be busy, live, and still wait. Lately I’ve found that my inability to keep still, to stay put, has had a negative influence. I wait, and yet I say, hurry hurry hurry dammit. What does one lose, after a long wait?

To think of oneself as Ida, Hammershøi’s wife and muse, with her back turned, or her head bowed, perhaps reading a book or a letter. Think of the stillness, how the space around her arranges itself. She is waiting and yet: solitude. To be able to stand by the window, or sit near an open door, in between the shadows and what little light is left, and be quiet. To have that peace, and be thoroughly possessed of your self, to listen to your heart and hear that it is fine, that it is happy, that it is waiting and yet so alive: yes, that is what I want.

The Patience of Ordinary Things
Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

2 Comments

  1. Oh, how I needed this today. How often I feel like my inability to immediately implement a NEW LIFE is some kind of lazy failing, some un-life of sorts. You’re right, one can be fully alive while waiting. I am really taking your words to heart today. Nothing has hit me exactly like this in years. Thank you.

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