“Patience is a virtue” is one of those 14th century phrases many of us heard from our parents growing up. As an adult, I’ve used it with my children. I agree patience is a virtue, but wish that becoming a patient person did not require so much concentrated effort. It’s all about working on one’s attitude while waiting, allowing the process to take place in due time without becoming frustrated.
In a fast-paced world, I make slow art. Creating pottery is a practice in patience. Each clay piece is first formed by hand, then wrapped in plastic until dry enough to go into the kiln for the first firing. Once out of the kiln, the piece is glazed, then fired again at a higher temperature. The process for each piece takes approximately three weeks from start to finish, and the potential for loss is great at each stage. Remaining calm both inside and out throughout the course of the work is essential for the process to be bearable. The process cannot and should not be rushed to achieve my best work.
I work daily on patience which requires serious discipline and effort. Situations frequently arise that require self-control. I’m not referring just to my artwork, but also to normal everyday life such as standing in line at the supermarket, fighting traffic, or waiting for a loquacious friend to finish a thought.
Learning to be patient is exhausting. It takes endurance and it takes training our minds to be satisfied with each step of the process. Waiting and delays allow us unplanned time that can lead to growth and productivity. The truth is that we may as well relax and enjoy the downtime; we can choose to be angry and impatient while forced to wait, or we can learn to adopt a more positive attitude toward a situation that is not within our control.
How do you practice patience? And how does patience impact your life and your art?