In my garden there’s a Bird of Paradise flower without a flower (yet). The plant is also called Strelitzia. There are two buds in it that I check every morning to see how much they have grown. I so much want the buds to be ready. I can hardly wait! I long for the bright orange of the flowers to complement the dark green of the leaves. I want to marvel on the unfolding of the shape. I want to enjoy the flowers so badly that I could almost rip the leaves apart to go look for the stunning colour myself. But I wait. I know I have to. I know that nature has its course and nature needs its time to let things ripen and grow. But I find it difficult to having to be that patient! I would like to enjoy the beauty of the flowers right now.
The impatience that I experience for the flowers to bloom is a feeling that many of us feel every day for many other things than flowers. We want this car, that dress, that iPad 2, that partner, that life, that success, that money, that acknowledgement, this vacation or that change NOW, or tomorrow at last! We don’t like waiting. “Patience is a virtue” is what our grandparents used to believe in. That’s not for us. We can have loans now, have access now, change our lives right now. That’s what the media sell us and tell us. Even a book title like “The Power of Now” could be easily misunderstood and feed our impatience.
Although we have changed into impatient creatures, nature has not changed. Nature still has its course and simply allows time for things to grow in their own pace.
In factories we make chickens and calves grow faster and in greenhouses we make tomatoes and roses bloom sooner. But forcing growth makes eggs lose their taste and roses without scent. Tomatoes aren’t that red and juicy when their growth is being forced under 24 hours a day burning growth-lamps. The meat of animals that haven’t been allowed to follow their natural growing process tastes like water and carton compared to healthy and natural grown meat, etcetera.
We need time too. Although we don’t like it, many of the things that make our lives worthwhile, take time. For love to grow, for friendships to deepen, for getting used to a new place or home, for our hair to grow, for a new summer to come, for new insights to sink in, for learning a new language or profession, and so on: we need time.
Time is mysterious. Time has a law of its own. Sometimes time goes quickly; sometimes it goes slow. We can’t understand time. We have made rules about time and invented ways to measure it. We try to live according to the rules that we have tried to capture time in. We have “captured” ourselves in a system and have begun to believe that we rule time instead of the other way around. But denying the mystery about time will work against us. People get burnt out, depressed, anxious and sad because they don’t allow time to work its mysterious ways.
I look at the two buds on the Strelitzia every morning. Sometimes I even watch them three or four times a day. And by understanding that I can’t force this growing process, I must surrender. I surrender to time, to the time these flowers need to grow and to be ready to open their petals. And I begin to enjoy the process. I slowly begin to love the waiting. The waiting in which I can anticipate on what I expect to be happening soon, any day now! In this way the waiting allows for excitement and much longer happiness as opposed to the Bird of Paradise flowers blooming already. I begin to understand something about patience.
Years ago a letter from The Netherlands to Australia would have taken six weeks to arrive, if it would arrive at all. Patience back then simply had to be a virtue. People had no choice. But now, in this superfast era where we seemingly don’t have to wait for anything, we have a choice. Do we allow for time to work its mysteries? Or do we push and pull and force and challenge and disrespect our own and other’s nature? What kind of life do we want to live? Things always get harder when we have choice, so we have to make an effort to think about this: how do we want to live? In a natural state of flow? Or in a hurried and seemingly controlled manner? I do know this: when I hurry, I miss out on nice surprises. When I hurry I don’t allow for unexpected things to happen. When I try to control things, I exclude the mysteries of time.
For me the choice isn’t hard. I want to include some magic in my life. I want to allow for time to show me things that I couldn’t imagine with my mind. I choose to surrender to a natural process of slow growth instead of pushing and pulling. And you know what? Things can really move quickly when I surrender to “slow time”. Surprisingly, huh? Another funny thing is that time seems timeless, when in natural flow!
I will give you an exercise that might help to unwind, in my next post. Be sure to read that one if you are willing to surrender too.
To patience and growth,