Anything valuable

It's a good thing we didn't have to wait for these trees to grow. Giant sequoias in Sequoia National Park, 2013, by Tuxyso, CC by SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a good thing we didn’t have to wait for these trees to grow.
Sequoia National Park, 2013, by Tuxyso, CC by SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Anything valuable is going to take time. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and others.”Alexandra Stoddard

I think technology is training us to be impatient. Recently I turned on an old computer so I could use it while the one I typically use was in the midst of a lengthy maintenance procedure. At first, I thought something was wrong with the old one, because it was taking so long to do everything. Then I realized that it was just a bit slower because of its age, and what seemed like a long time was actually less than a minute.

Saving time has climbed to the top of our priority lists, and for good reason. There are many wonderful things we can be doing with that time, so it is natural for us to be greedy with it. The problem is that impatience actually robs us of the enjoyment we seek. I can’t think of any difficulty that is not made worse by impatience, nor any joy that is not made better by taking the time to savor it.

I might attempt to rationalize my own impatience by telling myself it’s useful; that those of us who are impatientย somehow manage to hurry things along. On reflection, though, this idea is mostly a delusion. Ever caught yourself hitting an elevator button or a walk signal button repeatedly because you got tired of waiting? I know I have, many times, even though I know it doesn’t help anything.

No matter what you are doing today, it’s likely that there will be something that takes longer than you want it to. If a robot answers your phone call and puts you on hold, or if someone you are waiting for is late, or if you are standing in a long line, try to find ways to turn your attention elsewhere. Keep a small book or magazine with you and read for a few minutes, or turn your held callย on speaker while you attend to something different. Check your email, load the dishwasher, file your nails. I guarantee you that the time will go faster if you do something else while you wait.

But if you’re not able to do any of those things, just close your eyes and visualize those gorgeous giant redwoods, and think about how long it took them to grow. Aren’t we lucky they were waiting for us when we arrived on this earth?


  1. Nancy Blevins

    I think of children when I visualize AND experience impatience the most. Nothing teaches the gift of the Spirit (or tries it) more than they do and especially teenagers! A principal once told me they are a work in progress when one of mine did something. Ironic that God thinks of us as children and His patience with us supreme. Love to Jeff and Matt!๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    • Nancy, how true!! Surviving the teenage years is very difficult. Yes, I have thought countless times that after having kids, I understand so much better how God must see us. How one can love so intensely and hurt so deeply and never give up no matter what. Plus, as you say, the word “patience” takes on a whole new meaning, as does the word “busy.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Miss you my friend. Love to you and your sons. โค

  2. Sometimes we can while away the time for quite long but waiting a few seconds for some page to load or a lift to open can make us so annoyed as if we value every second and can’t bear the loss of those few seconds.

    • Bindu, that is so true! I often wonder whether we are stockpiling frustration inside and just waiting for some trivial irritant to set us off. It’s almost like these little things can catch us off guard. I’ll try to remember this the next time I’m fuming at a “slow” computer or electronic gadget (or traffic light or elevator). ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you are getting some cooler weather!

  3. Good morning, Julia! Wow, did I need to read this today! Yes, I’ve been extra cranky and impatient lately. The worst is “Hurry up and go to SLEEP because I have so much to do tomorrow!” ๐Ÿ˜€
    At those times, nail filing is contraindicated, but what a pressure valve it is to realize that I have found some unplanned time to pray!
    Maybe I’ll never get to see those redwoods in my lifetime, and maybe I will. In the meantime, I’d best enjoy the pleasant sights in my current local surroundings.
    Bubbles and bubbles of joy to you today!

    • Thanks Susan, I’m getting to this late, but your message does bring bubbles of joy. (I love soap bubbles almost as much as I love pinwheels!) I am learning– gradually– not to let myself get overtaken by the “hurry up and sleep or you are toast tomorrow” mentality, because that always makes it worse. I’ve read quite frequently that the best thing to do is get up for a few minutes when that happens; write out what’s bothering you, or have a calming snack (milk or yogurt always work for me). I don’t often do that, though. I do find that praying helps, especially since I often fall asleep WHILE I’m praying, which I finally decided is a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I hope you do get to see the redwoods! One of the things I miss most about living in NorCal is knowing that Muir Woods was an easy drive from home. It was a therapeutic day trip for me several times during our years there.

  4. You are so right, Julia. Impatience plaques so many of us. We never realize how insignificant are those daily things that rob our time than when we experience a power outage. Only then do we see the time that has been lost from holding in awe the giant redwoods in our lives.

    • Alan, so true, and you’re right that we all have some giant redwoods in our lives, whether they are trees or other joys. I used to wonder whether the park rangers that worked at Muir Woods or Sequoia or Yosemite every got used to seeing the amazing sights there. But of course they did, just as we grow too accustomed to the wonders in our lives to see them clearly. Thanks for being here! Hope you have a great week ahead.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, aren’t we lucky indeed? Just Wednesday, as I waited in a medical office, I used my time wisely and it only took a few minutes. I took the time to send Bill a “thank you text” for little things that he had done for me and improved my life. He has worked hard on his “honey-do” list during remodeling. I guess relationships can grow stronger with small gestures…long term fertilizer! Special thoughts to y’all across the miles! Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, PERFECT use of a few minutes that might otherwise have been wasted reading about the Kardashians…in 2013! When I read your comment, I couldn’t help but think of this funny, which I totally love, from the Anne Taintor site. Tell Bill I dedicate it to him!! Sending love and laughter!

      • Sheila

        ๐Ÿ˜‚ That is sooo appropriate, actually all captions apply. I’m laughing, too! I thought of Jeff and Matt this morning when I read The Writer’s Almanac…. Ice Cream Shop. VerandaH is about to change… again! I’m hoping you’ll have a good week. Let’s walk on some sunshine! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

        • I just love that site. I love our Verandahs, too! So many views to enjoy, so little time…how on earth is it almost OCTOBER??!!! BTW I notice Cunard (the British cruise line) spells “Verandah” with an H too. I knew I must have picked it up somewhere. Probably from some cruise brochure!

          • Sheila

            Julia, I’m about to burst to tell my news about our next Vann Clan trip. We are planning an Alaska cruise in August 2017. Just the planning part is fun! ๐Ÿ›ณ

            • Sheila, how fabulous! Jeff and I took an Alaska cruise (complete with a SEPARATE cabin for the boys) for our 20th anniversary. It is wonderful. And yes, the planning will be nearly half the fun. If you can possibly manage it, I highly recommend renting a car on one of your port days and driving up into the Yukon territory. It’s stunning. If you leave from Skagway, you can easily visit the amazing desert in Carcross, a tiny island of sand amid the mountains.

  6. Ann

    This part of the quote really resonates with me
    “Be patient and tolerant with yourself “. I sometimes get very impatient with myself. I try to be very tolerant with others, especially friends and family, but don’t always extend this tolerance to myself.

    Hope this makes sense!


    • Ann, it makes perfect sense. In my own case, I learned that one “secret” to being more patient with others, was to cut myself more slack. Sometimes we think it’s OK to be tough on ourselves, but there is an inevitable resentment that creeps in with me when I do that, and eventually (or even immediately) someone else ends up paying. Life is just to short to spend it spreading misery, and I tend to do that when I’m too hard on myself. Hope you will be extra-kind to yourself this week. That’s an order! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ann Weldon

        Thanks. I just tok a deep breath and will try to relax and be kind to myself and others. You are a jewel. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Ann, I want to replace your husband’s book with a copy from “the Second Printing” (many errors, grammatical and otherwise, have been corrected.)

  7. I wandered back here and stopped in the forest. I remember walking through them just outside of San Francisco and being awe-struck. Patience? Well, I read this book, ‘Boom, Bust and Echo years ago. It was so interesting and outlined how demographics and statistics weigh the outcome of most everything. Including gov’t investment in health care. Well, they wrote that 1961 was the year when there were more babies born than any other time and this made us (born in 61) very patient people. Why? Because, as children, we had to get used to lining up for everything and be good at sharing. Maybe that applies to me, I do tend to be a pretty patient person. That was a big plus as a frontline sales and service rep for a major communications company here in Canada. Where the usual caller could strip the most rational and patient person down to frayed nerves in no time. But like your friend Ann, I can be impatient at times with myself. Most notably when I can’t figure out the TV remotes and buttons. I get things so mixed up and off channel, that soon nothing works. LOL So I turn it off and go do something else. How come I just can’t figure the dang thing out, LOL xo K

    One other way I find my patience tested is when some exhibits bad manners. For example loud talkers in public places or someone being disrespectful to a service person. I really don’t have the patience for that at all. But hey, no one’s perfect ;D xo K

    • K, I agree that your patience is world class, and I love how you care so much about all the public service people you meet. You tip more and better than anybody I’ve ever known. You are the only person I’ve ever seen who will routinely ask “do you have a tip jar?” ๐Ÿ˜€ Yep, serving the public takes a ton of patience. The other day when a woman got really hateful with me I looked her in the eye and said “Ma’am, you are in the WRONG JOB.” Probably I shouldn’t have said that, but it was not long after Jeff died and I was having one of the worst days of my life. Hey I wouldn’t worry about not being able to figure out the TV – if it made you turn it off and do something else, it did you a favor, hee-hee. Nobody is perfect but you come closer than most. โค

      • Julia, how awful to have to deal with that lady. I think your comment to her was very generous in spirit, she probably deserved something more. But I bet you’re not the only one she was unhelpful to that day. You’re on the nose when you told her, “you’re in the wrong job”. Most often that’s exactly the problem. Customer service is not for everyone. It helps if you are a good listener, but there in lays the problem. Most people are too busy thinking of their rebuttal while they should be listening. Good communications starts with being a good listener… heard it hear first, LOL xo K
        Oh, and thank you for your generous message but truthfully, I am way far from perfect ๐Ÿ˜€ xo

        • K, I think customer service is a really tough job if it’s done well, and has never gotten the respect it deserves. In my younger years I was pretty good at it (or so my bosses always said) but I wonder whether I’d have the patience for it now. I think it’s great training, though, and I think everyone should work in some sort of public contact job just to get a sense of what it can be like, and how much it means when customers or clients are kind and appreciative. So the least I can do is try to remember that when someone is doing a good job, and say or do something encouraging.

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