Friday, December 23, 2011

Patience and Selflessness

Selfish people are not patient.  Patience is a virtue, so why wasn’t I blessed with it?  I try every day to have patience and to be less selfish.  As I’m listening to a child scream, kick his legs on the floor, throw a toy across the room, I ask my inner self for patience so I don’t act in anger.  I find myself having limited patience with the kids.  At bedtime, if they won’t go to sleep, then I get mad.  I feel like they are infringing upon my precious alone time.   I hurry them into the bed and through clenched teeth I yell, “Just stay in bed!”  A lack of patience promotes anger, not only in me, but in the kids too.  It’s me being impatient with the kids, so I can get on with my own life.

In the US, we’re always striving for the next best thing.  This is a “me, me, me” culture.  We want something better, we want it faster, and generally we want more of it.  The mentality is that selfishness and impatience is rewarded.  This makes it very hard to strive for selflessness and patience in our lives.
As I find myself searching, I can’t help but remember Shel Silverstein’s great poem, “Ladies First.”
Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”
Pushing in front of the ice cream line.
Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”
Grabbing the ketchup at dinnertime.
Climbing on the morning bus
She’d shove right by all of us
And there’d be a tiff or a fight or a fuss
When Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”

Pamela Purse screamed, “Ladies first,”
When we went off on our jungle trip.
Pamela Purse said her thirst was worse
And guzzled our water, every sip.
And when we got grabbed by that wild savage band,
Who tied us together and made us all stand
In a long line in front of the King of the land-
A cannibal known as Fry-‘Em-Up Dan,
Who sat on his throne in a bib so grand
With a lick of his lips and a fork in his hand,
As he tried to decide who’d be first in the pan-
From back of the line, in that shrill voice of hers,
Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”

As I child I used to imagine Cannibal Dan, grabbing me and eating me up.  Being the baby,
I had learned to become somewhat selfish.  I’ll admit it I was even a bit spoiled, like Pamela Purse.  We all learn how to share as children, in essence how not to be selfish, but sometimes we also learn how to be selfish.

When we are born, our parents selflessly give us everything.  As newborns, we depend on the care of our parents and the nurturing, the patience, the self-less giving.  As we grow we learn to share with others.  We also learn that we have wants, and in order to fulfill them we have to be a little bit selfish.  My question is: Why can’t we give more of ourselves to others around us?  We need to learn to be less selfish and more patient with people in our lives.  We need to teach our children to give of themselves, to become selfless.  We can do this by living these values.  This is still something that I’m learning, re-teaching myself how to be selfless and not selfish like Pamela Purse. 

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