“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to have a good attitude while waiting.” - Anonymous
Patience. What is your reaction to this word? If you’re an East Coaster like me, chances are it’s not your strong suit. Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. What is something you have been patiently waiting for? Is it to meet the love of your life; your new baby to be born; acceptance into the college of your choice; your birthday celebration or the results of a job interview?
Patience is a dirty word these days. At this point in the pandemic edition of our lives, many people are starting to lose their patience. People are waiting for their stimulus checks or unemployment benefits to kick in; their old familiar routines to resume; schools, gyms, restaurants and retail stores to reopen; the ability to be with their friends and loved ones; the ability to attend sporting events, concerts, weddings, birthday parties and graduations; the ability to travel; and the list goes on.
By now, people are tired of wearing masks. They're tired of social distancing. They're tired of feeling stuck at home. And, they're tired of losing money.
Could anyone have imagined we would be experiencing something like this in our lifetime and for this long? Some Americans have been under stay-at-home orders for six weeks, with no end in sight. Some states are considering a “soft reopening,” where they may allow more stores, parks and beaches to reopen while requiring masks to be worn in public. Other states are far from it.
But this experience has not been in vain. If we were to peel back the layers of any struggle, pain or hardship, we are bound to find the lesson. At the core of every rotten fruit there is always a lesson.
This crisis has caused a major shift in how we connect and relate to each other and nature. In fact, we are living more like the Hawaiians do - with the aloha spirit. The literal meaning of aloha is "the breath of life." Aloha is any attitude, act or way of being or behaving that benefits your mind, body and spirit with love, kindness, compassion, peace, mercy or affection. According to the Hawaiian culture, aloha begins with first learning how to treat ourselves with love and respect and then treating others the same way. This is how we create more harmony with each other and nature.
For the first time in decades, we have been forced to slow down and spend more time at home with our families. Now, Americans are gathered around the table for more family dinners. Families are bonding over Netflix shows or movies. And, people are more creative with their kids: baking banana bread or cakes and cooking more homemade meals, coloring rainbows on their driveways, making more craft projects, leading drive-by birthday parades, building blanket forts in living rooms, camping in their backyards and constructing bigger indoor raceways for their Mattel matchbox cars. (That is, everyone except those healthcare workers who have had to quarantine themselves from their own families.)
People have been forced to simplify their lives, yet step farther out of their comfort zones to learn how to connect in new ways. Educators have become even more resourceful in how they educate their students by creating virtual classrooms from their homes. More families FaceTime with their loved ones and friends hold Zoom happy hours.
People strengthened their communities with more random acts of kindness. Neighbors check on each other more. Young people have stepped up to volunteer delivery services to those unable to leave their homes. Others donated and delivered care packages to cheer up local healthcare workers. And, essential workers in the form of doctors, nurses, first responders, pharmacists, physical therapists, senior living caregivers, teachers, construction workers, grocery store clerks, tradesmen, delivery service drivers, postal workers, and phone and internet service technicians are celebrated as national heroes every day.
And, now more than ever, people appreciate nature more. People crave to move and get outdoors. People take a moment to smile and wave to each other while walking or running outside, relieved to escape from the prisons of their homes. More people walk their dogs together as a family in their neighborhoods. And, with less traffic on the roads, we are producing less pollution, so even Mother Nature gets a break.
Also, speaking of "breath of life," it is as if the coronavirus, known for causing shortness of breath, ironically has given us all a reason to stop and take a deep breath. When we take a moment to breathe more deeply, we slow down and live in the moment. It is our breath that anchors us to the present. You see, once we take a breath and let it go, we can never get it back. Just like a moment in time, once it is gone, it is gone. Being in the present moment teaches awareness, gratitude and to live life to the fullest. So, the very virus that killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide has also taught us to live life to the fullest.
While our current lifestyle may be inconvenient and even stressful at times, the potential for health decline and loss of life is more so. Therefore, this crisis helps us appreciate legendary peacemaker Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” In this quote, lies our lesson: to prioritize health, family and living in the moment above all worldly things. How we live may change, but health, family and time will always be our most valuable commodities. They are our true pieces of gold and silver.
As Americans accustomed to living lives of instant gratification, perhaps an even bigger lesson for us to learn is patience. After all, isn't our health and family worth our patience? I think you can wait a little longer, my Pineapple. Your family, your health and your life are worth it.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.