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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lessons in Patience

I'm finally back. Did you wonder what happened to Good Life Northwest? During the weeks since my last post, at the end of April, life's circumstances conspired to remind me of a few truths.

One is that there are some things you can't change. We will all lose loved ones, or see others we love suffer accidents or illnesses that shake up their lives. Or we might experience them in our own. Things can go along fine for a long time before everything seems to hit us at once.

Another truth is that there are some things you can't hurry, like recovering from surgery, as my son and I are both doing right now. You can't hurry grief either. It will take a long time for me to quit thinking I can pick up the phone and call my Dad, ask him a question about his life, or tell him I love him.

There's no way to put in a rush order for the maturity that comes with years of living, the skill it takes to play a musical instrument, or make a quilt. Babies take nine months to be born and about two decades to complete childhood. And the love and concern that is part of being a parent never ends. Bread must rise. Seeds will sprout on their own schedule. You can't hurry summer in the Pacific Northwest or even expect it to arrive on time. It's always a long haul, any way you look at it. Life takes patience.

Now, with July half over, the sun finally shines through the window of my Tacoma home. I sit in its welcome warmth and light, piecing a quilt by hand. My shoulder aches from the morning's physical therapy. I worked hard during my appointment, pushing myself just a bit beyond what I thought I could do, pushing past the pain. I can't change the fact that my shoulder needed repair, and now I must wait for the healing. I still have a long way to go, but I'll make it. As with the pieces of my quilt, day by day, my efforts add up.

I walk in the evening, and from a high hill I can see Vashon Island, my birthplace, my heart's true home. Over and beyond its forested horizon, the sight of Seattle's skyscrapers to the north never fails to amaze me by looking so nearby. In that neighboring city, my son marks a milestone this week. He'll get the stitches removed from the long incision through which a metal plate and screws became part of his knee forever. He can't put any weight on that leg for three months, and the total recovery will take much longer. He's learning a hard lesson in patience too, even as we all feel grateful for that fact that he will heal in time. It could have been worse.

A yellow butterfly flutters through my line of sight, and I wonder if the caterpillar had the concept of patience when it spun a cocoon. Down below, near the front steps, one of my favorite roses basks in its time of glory. I've waited all year just to see those tiny pink buds appear among the half-inch leaves during a period of bloom as beautiful and brief as youth. I could replace it with a different variety, but it rewards my wait with its unique charms, if only for a while. Someday, the quilt that keeps my hands busy now will be done. Then every time I see it I will remember these quiet moments on a summer day, when I pondered the value of patience.

I've heard it said that when you're learning to tie fishing flies, the first 1,000 are just a warm-up drill. I wonder how many fumbling stitches it took for me to learn to quilt. In the case of becoming a writer, I'd say it takes a mere lifetime of reading good literature and a driving passion to play with, ponder, consider, choose, reject, and rejoice in billions of words. I'm still practicing. Thank you for your patience.

1 comment:

Whidbey Woman said...

Hey Candace, Welcome back! It sounds like you'be really been through it. I hope the rest of the summer goes better for you!