When I take my walks in the morning, I cross several intersections that invite pedestrians to control the traffic stream. You push a button, and the light cycles through to let you cross the street. The funny thing is that when you push the arrow, an agitated male voice says “Wait!” as if you would walk into the traffic of people late for work.
I’ll admit it–I’m impatient. Not as much as I used to be, but still more than is necessary. The last time I was discussing a problem I wanted to resolve, my coach suggested just letting it be for a while. For a Myers-Briggs “J” –the one who checks things off a list, who is always working toward a goal, who makes decisions and even if they are wrong, who cares, it’s better than not doing anything–well, letting a problem stew didn’t seem like a good solution.
My coach, wise woman that she is, said–“think of the solution as a seedling. It’s just broken out of the ground and is searching for some light. If you come along and pull it out to get a closer look, then stick it in the ground, then do that every day, the seedling won’t survive.”
She made me laugh the kind of laugh that let’s me know I’m delighted in my own mis-steps. I could see myself uprooting the seedling every day to see how it was growing. And how quickly fatal that would be. Some things do better when left to grow roots and shoots.
The story reminded me of another gardening metaphor on patience. Sweet corn takes about 75 days to go from seed to picking an ear. Yelling at it to hurry up has no effect on the length of time. It doesn’t make the corn sweeter, either.
Some problems, some answers just need time to ripen. Even if we want answers and solutions right now. Knowing when to turn things over, as another wise woman I know says, “to the operating system of the universe,” is good wisdom.
—-Quinn McDonald is a gardener at heart. She is learning to be a gardener of the heart, too.