LEAVING FALL BEHIND (copy)

Waupun public works equipment operator Kurt Fenrich collects leaves in this November 2015 file photo.

Friends are so wonderfully understanding and empathetic. When I whine about my cold and my stuffy head, my friend Ben empathetically listens and says, “Why don’t you write an article about patience?”

“Good idea,” chimes in Karen, who has been caught in this conversation. “But I don’t have any patience right now,” I whine. They silently agreed and exchange glances. We changed the subject.

I can deal with a sneeze and maybe a bit of coughing, but more than that and I immediately go into I-don’t-have-time-for-this mode. So, when Ben says just rest, wait it out, honor your body, my response is that I have too many things to do to nap, especially before Thanksgiving.

I can take impatience to warp speed in nothing flat. Love is patient. Well, I love my autumn leaves, but when it is time for us to do our fall cleanup and those green babies are clinging to the branches, I am ready to mow the tree. Don’t they know we have a schedule? City workers aren’t going to wait forever for my maple to decide when it is good and ready to shed.

My Yoda Ben says calmly, “Have you even noticed that you can have a really windy fall day and the leaves don’t budge, but two days later on a perfectly calm autumn day they gently flow down to the ground?”

OK, he’s getting a bit annoying, because I am sick and tired of waiting to take care of things that matter. I want to be well and I want the leaves down and gone.

The term “I want” creeps into many statements of impatience. I want the leaves to come down is the tip of the iceberg. I want to travel, I want a new car, I want spring to be here, I want, I want, I want. Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you are waiting. I used to be patient.

I did wait to travel. Applying for that coming-of-age passport was worth the years of earning money and planning out my first adventure. Trips and household things require planning and saving, and they always are worth it.

I waited patiently for grandchildren. (That might have been more about not wanting to be a young person who was called grandma, but that was an amazing reward for patience.)

Many of us waited for more than 10 years for a Rotary Park to become a reality. Several locations, a number of designs and my patience were tested beyond the limit. Waiting, looking at all the options, and choosing carefully allowed for new opportunity. Beaver Dam now has the Rotary Riverwalk and first Music Park. Things have a way of always working out for the best (with a little help from our friends).

There is power in patience. Frustration while waiting in a line or being stopped at a stoplight or behind a right turner who didn’t signal serves no purpose. It’s no different than waiting for leaves to fall. Focus on something in the moment. The music in your car, a pretty pair of shoes on the person in front of you in line, your favorite movie.

In this time of instant gratification, quick fixes, sure cures and credit cards, we simply don’t want to wait. Whatever happened to the old adage “all good things come to those who wait”?

Whatever happened to being thankful for where you are and what you have right in front of you? A cold isn’t the end of the world. Neither is a few too many leaves left for spring.

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you are waiting.”

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.