Some resolutions are keepers. And so, once again, I will examine the concept of patience.
It is too much to ask that I resolve to become more patient. Resolutions should target the possible, as TBG phrased it when constructing the sentence was more than I could manage. Target the possible, not ask for the impossible. I know myself all too well - becoming more patient would be frustrating and impossible.
I have held this resolution for over a decade; it comes into play most often in check out lines. I stand behind women (and it's always women) who take each item out of the cart separately, placing each item with care and concern on the conveyor belt, watching each item as it is rung up and flung into a plastic sack (because she never ever ever carries a reusable bag of her own), and then, when the cashier smiles and tells her the total, she takes her purse off her shoulder and begins to look for her checkbook (and it's always a checkbook). And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.
Can you feel the fury rising as I type? Asking me to become patient is patently absurd. It's not in me.
But what is in me is the power to rise above it. I know this is true because there have been moments over the last ten years when I found myself smiling at a situation which normally would send me into a tizzy. Those moments don't happen often, but when they do, they remind me that I am capable of change, that I ought to try harder, that feeling happy is better than being aggravated.
I can make myself happy by imagining a beautiful scene. I listened to a podcast with Esther Sternberg, an immunologist who's done work on the interactions between healing and one's immediate environment. Citing research showing quicker, happier healing when facing a wooded area rather than a brick wall, she wonders why the word placebo is always qualified with just. If it works, why denigrate it? And why can't it be more than a placebo? Why can't it have actual, psychological and physiological effects? Her work on this is fascinating and translational; it goes from the laboratory to the mainstream with little effort.
And so, today, when some fool needed to pull out of the parking lot, cross two lanes of traffic, and end up going ten miles below the speed limit after cutting me off, I pictured the native grasses along Rte 79, with the sun fading and the light glowing in what Little Cuter, in her professional photographer mode, calls the golden hour. I was still furious, but I was smiling through my rage.
This is a resolution worth renewing.