On Patience

Adam Steeber
7 min readJun 30, 2019

What greater challenge is there to the world's most able body than to wait for what he is able to do? Time persistently unravels the chaos of the universe leading all matter and energy to a fate of infinite entropy. Thankfully, the very nature of man is the opposite of this impartial universal decay. The mind and body strive toward order and harmony with the environment as to ward off the erosion that would take place without intelligent intervention. This drive causes the need to complete an infinite array of tasks to fight off the infinity of chaos. Of course, no one can complete an endless queue so it is up to the individual to prioritize what must be done and draw a line at their limit's end. Society, community, family, and friends can fill the gaps for all else; they support the limitations and inadequacies of the singular being. However, relying on the outside world for something needed within is akin to a surfer relying on the forces of the ocean to propel her forward. She cannot command the waters to do her bidding, nor can she impart a force to change the waves. She must have patience in the still waters until her opportunity arises, at which point she must paddle to reach a synchronous momentum with the water.

If all were immediately given to all who demanded it, the world would wither away from the unquenchable desires of the human race. The demands of one person must always be fulfilled by another and so the combined ability of all mankind is hopelessly finite against the infinite sum of man's greed. To facilitate the outpouring of ability, there exists a means to trade anything of value for something else of value; a sort of liquid trade good which we call currency. Money gives us the ability to represent the deeds we have fulfilled to demand deeds to be fulfilled. In theory, if I dig a hole for three hours and am paid the market rate for a hole-digger, I could turn around and hire a hole-digger for three hours with the wage I was paid. That does not necessarily mean I would receive a hole that has the same dimensions as the one I dug. If it were either bigger or smaller, a market inefficiency would occur and the value gained or lost would be transferred to the dollar. That transfer would urge a lesser or greater demand for hole-diggers and the fulfillments of workers would once again be balanced with the demands of the employers, all facilitated through a change in wage. The dollar is a blessing because it allows the poor to procure their needs and it is a curse because it encourages the greed of the rich. The flow of ability is loyally dispensed as time marches onward and money allows us to bank our surpluses. Yet I ask, what currency is there for legacy? The cultivation of anything of value follows this balance between supply and demand and, in the physical plane of existence, can be liquidated with the aid of cash. No such liquidation exists in the realm of ideas, happiness, relationships, and legacy. Instead, the riches of the heart and mind are left to a more archaic and genuine system of cultivation called husbandry.

To labor in the fields of the mind is to study or teach; to work in the forges of the heart is to listen or speak. However, unlike the farmer or the blacksmith, these efforts are not bought and paid for at market. Instead, they are harvested and distributed freely to ourselves and to those we hold most dearly. Here, time does not operate differently as it does in the economy; still it loyally dispenses ability. Fulfillment in this regard will come but it cannot be bought and delivered as one would do business with Amazon. It is here that patience becomes essential. If proper husbandry is practiced, carefully preparing or selecting a fertile mind and heart, patience will yield a crop 100 times of that which was planted. Compare this to the busybody who meddles in the natural progression of things and strives for complete control. Their tight grasp suffocates their cultivation and they die of starvation. So the question is simple, is a firm grasp of a short and controlled life better than an easy and abiding life of faith? As Lao Tzu observed, the unbending is the disciple of death and the yielding is the disciple of life.

Although patience implies a state of inaction it should not be confused with perpetual inactivity. Inspiration approaches stillness and it is up to the individual to decide when to act on this inspiration. Take, for example, the act of making a cup of tea; if one focuses solely on this activity and nothing else, they may understand the whole essence of patience. It begins with heating water to the boiling point. If taken off the heat too soon the water will not be hot enough for steeping, but if it is left on for too long the water will evaporate away. Once brought to a boil and taken off the heat, some time must elapse before pouring the water into the cup to avoid scalding the leaves. However, if too much time passes, the water will not be hot enough to steep the tea properly. Without a thermometer or timer, this requires a keen awareness of time since no physical cue will indicate when the correct temperature has been reached. Then when the water is poured into the cup, the leaves must steep for a certain amount of time depending on the type of tea. Certain teas will become bitter if too much steeping time is allowed and other teas need ample time to steep. Thus, wisdom comes to the aid of patience. Finally, when the tea has steeped, time must pass before the beverage is cool enough to drink without scalding the mouth. This is perhaps the greatest test of patience in the whole process. How many times have you scalded your mouth on coffee or tea yet too hot to drink? Only the sage knows to wait before taking the first sip; not too long so that the tea is cold but not too soon so that the tea is too hot. When you completely devote yourself to this step in the process, you develop a relationship with the tea. You respect it by staying your desire so that the tea can be enjoyed as it was meant to be enjoyed. This is the essence of patience: using time as a tool instead of seeing it as an obstacle to trudge through.

Woe often accompanies one who waits patiently since the wheel of fortune does not turn the same for all. The actions required to start a chain reaction provide a nice distraction until it is set into motion. Then, only time and law control the dominoes as they fall and slowly reach their end. The urge to interject often washes over one who must wait after sowing their due, especially when the fruits of their efforts are delayed longer than anticipated. This feeling can only be countered with an unwavering faith in the process of cultivation. Sometimes we rely on people to cultivate our goals which add layers of complexity. The strength of the interpersonal relationship you have with someone determines the peace of mind you can afford yourself when working with that individual. Patience is easier when you know the character of he who works on your behalf. When he finally delivers the expected result, the faith you put in him will reinforce the strength of your relationship. Meddling and micromanaging signals a lack of faith and, by connection, a lack of patience. Therefore, silence your woe; it only exists to seed doubt and destroy the natural order of events.

Patience stands guard against uncertainty and opens the door to opportunity. Eager expectations may run wild in the mind and only proper husbandry will tame them. They become reality and we, in consequence, become the builders thereof. Like any builder, our tools increase our ability so long as we practice our craft into mastery. He who masters weapons becomes a martial artist. She who masters beasts of burden becomes an equestrian artist. So too does the person who masters the tool of time become an artist of fate, weaving the fabric of their destiny into an intentional quilt of legacy, a sort of flag for the sovereignty of patience. Time reveals all which is meant to be revealed so the act of patience is simply an act of observation. It is the inaction amongst action, the moment in-between an exhale and an inhale.

Patience is the mantel of peace: trimmed with gold it shimmers in the good light. Stillness is an ally and blessed is he who makes it his acquaintance. The war against chaos rages on. Like any good general, we wait for our enemy to approach. When it is afar, observe the field of battle and enjoy the grace which resides in the calm. When it is near, strike it down with all your mastery and ability. Order, harmony, and peace will surely follow.



Adam Steeber

My focus as a writer is non-fiction, though I do dabble in fiction. I want to create content that comes from the passion of my mind. I seek to illuminate truth.