Patience Young Grasshopper

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Photo by Tyler Milligan on Unsplash

In the TV series Kung Fu (1972–75), an orphaned young boy is raised and trained to become a Shaolin priest before embarking on a journey through the American West. An elder mentor is the boy’s guide to adulthood. Training by his blind master often included the advice:

Patience, young grasshopper.

One of the ironies of aging is that for many of us, we experience a weird enhancement — even an acceleration — of patience. As someone rounding out my seventh decade circling the sun, I would have thought that quite the opposite would occur. With approaching ancestorhood, we might be expected to be in quite a hurry to finish things out … to complete our bucket list.

I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago when my grandsons were little. Preschoolers are naturally not-in-a-hurry. There’s too much to see and do. Deadlines are for adults. I concurred. My son, their father, though, had a different perspective. His free time was limited by career, chores, and the necessity of raising and caring for a family. The shared patience of elders and young ones was not shared by my adult son.

Some aspects of this strange relationship with patience can be attributed to the shared experiences of grandson and grandfather (Pacemakers). But I believe there’s more to it than that. Along the way, we old farts learned the virtues of patience. We learned that “this too will pass” — because it did so many times. We learned that patience provided time for reflection and listening. We discovered the power that comes with patience well exercised. Patience does not mean waiting idly by with inaction.

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing”. It waits on the right time to act, for the right principles, and in the right way.
― Fulton J. Sheen

Acting smarter is often more productive than acting faster. And sometimes an idea’s time must come at a time of its choosing, not a time of ours.

In the coming days, our collective American patience will be tried. All of us will be hanging on edge, looking for evidence that “our side” has prevailed. Ultimately half of us will be, not just disappointed by the result, but likely even convinced that the result was a reflection of nefarious forces working their evil. We will want action. We will want heads to roll.

Before all of the votes are counted and results certified by each of the individual states, there will be plenty of tension — and perhaps more than a little disinformation and wild prognostications. Impatience will have no effect on this process. The process will have to play out in county elections offices, in the media, and perhaps even the courts. It will be a time to practice our Omms, listen to Enya, or play a game of Tetris. The fruition time for this process could be long. Reflect on the 2000 election if you remember it. Read about it if you don’t.

But even after the counting has been finalized, there will still be a need for patience. Half of us are going to have an elevated level of disappointment, frustration, resentment, anger, and perhaps even depression. We will feel like the country has deserted us.

We should remember, though, that in even a landslide election, if only 5% of the electorate had changed their mind, things would have gone another way. We should use the time following the inauguration of the next President for quiet reflection, re-evaluation, and regrouping.

It will be a good time to patiently sit back and see what new faces arise in the political world that could both garner our favor and move the country in the direction we wish it to go.

It will be a good time to form mutually beneficial coalitions with our fellow citizens, even those whose views are not exactly the same as our own.

It will be a good time to soothingly heal ourselves and our communities by working to still the collective negativity that emerged during this year’s campaigning.

This is my thirteenth Presidential election since I could first vote in 1972. Of the intervening eleven elections, there have been six transfers of power between major parties. There were two one-term Presidents. Believe me, this election too will pass.

Patience young grasshopper.

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