Hurry up and Wait – By Guest Blogger Joel Nelson
This wasn’t the original plan for what I was going to write about. I was well on my way to an entry about the connections between the community and education and how important I believe that to be (maybe I’ll get to do that another time). But something happened that coalesced some thoughts I had been mulling, a personal journey I was currently on, and how the need for a pause in life is not always permanent but necessary.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge Cincinnati Bengals fan. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, so it’s natural. And one of the earliest, happiest memories I have with my father was watching the Bengals in the Super Bowl after the 1988 season. So, as you would expect I was ready to watch them against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, January 2nd. Big game, big anticipation, big hype….and then the Damar Hamlin situation happened. I won’t rehash the details, but a young man almost died on the field. You might even say he did, having to be resuscitated multiple times after his heart stopped. Witnessing something like that, collectively with millions of people, can cause you to pause. And I believe millions did, all at the same time.
During this pause, I did what many do these days and kept my eyes glued to social media and the television, waiting for updates. Waiting became the norm for everyone as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning, and throughout the days to come. Updates trickled, but the good news, great news, that he was OK was what we were all looking to be told. Waiting can seem like an immovable object sometime. Why do we have to go through this period of nothing where standstill seems to be only in our lane of traffic.
And then I began to realize things were happening in the midst of this pause. While we were waiting for good news, good news like millions in donations to Damar’s charity to help kids and families, was happening. While “thoughts and prayers” was being posted over and over again, prayer was actually happening. While we were at a loss for what to do next, the incident brought about a significant increase in awareness and interest in lifesaving CPR. Realizing these things, and much more, were occurring, I began to reflect on a personal journey I have been on for the past year or so, a journey of patience.
Patience is the ability to wait calmly for something you want or need, resisting the urge to act impulsively, and being content if you need to do things at a slower pace. In other words, waiting with purpose. These are things that I have found out, and learned that I am not very good at, I have been on this journey of becoming a more patient person. I have also learned that I am not alone.
We are dealing with a lot. From outrage and sadness brought on by the things that are going on around us, to the anxiety and fear on what might be next, to new social norms and added responsibilities necessitated by the pandemic. We all want to move faster, achieve more, and ultimately feel better as quickly as possible. So, if there comes a time where pausing is needed, we don’t see these situations for what they are and we can become impatient with ourselves and others, judging through unrealistic standards. At least that is how it has been for me. However, I think I have few formulas that I have prescribed myself to overcome this Hurry Sickness (Yep, that’s a real thing. Don’t believe me, check it out!)
Patience + Family = Grace
A few years ago, I was working three jobs. I’m not sure how I did it. My primary position sometimes required time beyond the regular business day. I was also teaching a few nights a week and freelance designing other times. Four days out of every week I was working, or headed to work, eighteen out of the twenty-four hours of the day. I was doing it for my family. We had goals…aspirations, and I needed to “Do what I needed to do.” in order to make those things happen for my family. But I wasn’t listening to them. I didn’t have the time nor the patience to. And then the pandemic hit….pause. In terms of these areas of my life, it was a necessary pause, but frustrating for me at the outset. However, I now understand that my best ability is availability. That may not necessarily mean that I am always present, but I’m not always preoccupied. This is a type of active patience, grace, that manifests itself in ways like being a better listener and being more empathetic.
Patience + Faith = Hope
In times of pausing, it can sometimes be the day to day, dull but unavoidable that can seem the most insurmountable. Those things mount, and start to pile on with other larger challenges, and it can seem like none of it could possibly work out for the good. I have to get ready and go to work every day, but then the hot water tank goes out. I have to pick one kid up from here and drop another kid off over there, but now there’s something wrong with the car. Various versions of these things have happened, along with others, over the not-too-distant past. And I haven’t always had faith something good was going to come of it. But I haven’t always allowed time for it to. Being patient with myself and situations allows for that faith, even in circumstances beyond my control, to be for my good. New perspectives are good for me. Resiliency is good for me. Patience under pressure is good for me. The more “good” that starts to pile on, the more “hope” makes fewer situations seem insurmountable.
Patience + Focus = Endurance
I’m in the process of a major home project. I decided to do it myself and, upon making that decision, I told myself that I would allow myself the time needed to get it done. But, in the back of my mind, I had a targeted date for completion. When that deadline came and went and…well, as I said, I’m in the process of a major home project. So, there goes the target date. That eagerness to get it done would have consumed me in the past. There have been times where that eagerness tuned into anger and frustration, and ultimately literal sleepless nights thinking about what I didn’t get done or trying to do those things. However, I came across a saying that is attributed to the Navy SEALs that states, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” to explain the learning, planning, and execution that is intertwined in their missions. Understanding this further, the idea here is that the time to complete something should not complicate the time necessary to complete something right. So, I have to give myself the opportunity of time and set my focus on progress. Only then will I have the endurance necessary to do it right, and not lose sight of what I learned in the process.
What I have stated is not what I have learned, it is what I am learning. These formulas are healthier alternatives to maladaptive habits that have been cultivated over time. In order to keep myself from drifting with each success or failure as I try to become a more patient person, I go through a few steps:
- Assess – Don’t choose sides, even my own (Be ready to be wrong).
- Learn – Be ready to take a ride…in the back seat (You see more when you’re not driving all the time).
- Consult – Talk to my personal board of directors (Have a group of trusted advisors with varied perspectives they will truthfully share with you).
So, as the Bengals and Bills head to the playoffs, and Damar Hamlin has recovered well enough to send Instagram posts cheering on his teammates, I am reminded that good things can happen when you hurry up and wait.