Thursday, March 1, 2012

Patience is a virtue learned...

I was a child of the instant gratification generation long before the internet, affordability of overnight shipping, text messaging and Twitter. Impatience defined my first 23 years. As soon as I was ready for something, I expected it. Now. I saw no virtue in waiting for the inevitable.

I my adolescence and early adulthood, I rushed to "the point" many times. In relationships, I instigated far more serious commitments too early, either tying me too tightly to the wrong people, or driving them away. As a result, part of me sincerely believes that I killed what should have been a love of a lifetime - one of the only genuine regrets I have in my life.

I first began my lesson not to rush everything in my life when I decided I was old enough to get married at 23. Plain and simple, I was an idiot to believe it. But, I did it, so be it. I got 2 wonderful children out of the marriage, and I had the first cancerous tumor that was sucking the life out of me removed in the divorce - my ex-husband.

When I first started working when I graduated college, there were jobs  a'plenty, so I never went more than a day or two without employment. But, when September 11 burst the economic bubble we were riding on, and everyone and their brother was getting laid off left and right, I didn't get a job as soon as I called my employment agency contacts. I didn't even get an interview. I was making dozens of call a day at the out-sourcing agency my former employer had provided to me, and I was lucky if I got an interview once a week over the phone. During my entire stay there, I had only gotten 2 face-to-face interviews. I was crawling the walls. But, soon, I got a job offer and I took it blindly. I grabbed it. And that's what I did for years - the first job offer I got, I took. I didn't want to risk anything. I didn't know there'd be anything else. And I paid for it, to an extent. I took jobs I should have reconsidered. I made concessions in title and salary that set a precedence. I've only recently learned not to do that. But at a great cost.

All of these stumbling blocks, however, still hadn't quelled my need for wanting what I wanted. Now. I wanted to snap my fingers and have the pieces that I knew would fall into place inevitably to fall already.

Maybe that's why I've settled into project management in one regard or another professionally - either as a Project Manager, or simply implementing timelines, schedules, efficiency and streamlining processes around me with or without invitation.

It's funny how cancer - in every regard - is an absolute slap in this compulsive face. There is no rushing cancer. Cancer, the treatments, the doctors, the recovery, runs on its own time. Everyone knows that G-d created the world in 7 days. My philosophy until cancer was that if G-d could do it in 7 days, than the foolish, mundane demands I had could be easily done within my timelines - I was my own god in my own world - when I declared that it was evening and it was morning with my internet order, my conflict resolution, etc, it was so. Call me Jean-Luc.

But you can't do that with cancer.

I'm reminded of when I was at Bi-Cultural as a young student, and learning - בראשית - the creation story. My teacher explained that, yes, literally, the Torah says Day 1, Day 2, etc. But if that were the case, dinosaurs wouldn't have had time to live and die before Day 6. How do we explain this discrepancy? G-d's days weren't the 24-hours we, humanity, know and live by. Because G-d is infinite, G-d's days could be a millenia. Those 7 "G-d" Days covered the expanse of thousands of years. Even G-d couldn't snap fingers and have things done in a "human" flash.

In July and August, I was calling the shots as best I could. I had a timeline - surgery had to be done before the kids came home from camp. Yes, the tests would take a couple of weeks, which was too long for my taste, but so be it. But things had to be done. Now. And they were. And that's where my timeline went out the proverbial cancer window. Yes, chemo was scheduled around the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin in October. But what I wasn't expecting was that my body was still recovering from the surgery, let alone the first bout of chemo. I hadn't thrown up, become frail and ill the second day after chemo - hence, I was fine. Yes, my hair was falling out, and I was a little weaker, but no biggie.

Well, that landed me in the hospital for 2 weeks with an infection, and "benched" from activity. I'm still benched. 5 months later. 2 weeks after my last surgery, and I'm just now getting the drains removed.

Maybe it's been this extended period of time on my butt, not in the saddle, or in walking shoes, for that matter, that has finally taught me the lesson of patience. At least, in some regards. I'd be lying if I said all regards. I still expect stuff I order online to show up on my doorstep within an hour. When I call someone and leave a message, I expect a call back within seconds.

But I'm starting to learn patience.

Don't try mine, yet, though. I'm a work in progress. So have patience with me.

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