18 July 2016

A Bit at a Time

One of the things that gets me kind of sad when I work with young people is the way that they feel they have to do things very quickly, and perfectly. We've created an environment for them in which they don't feel comfortable taking their time, in which they feel tremendous pressure to do things fast. They don't want to work for a week on the project--they want it done now. This is a problem that has been around for some people for quite a long time, but one that seems to be getting increasingly worse as pretty much everything in our society becomes faster, from finding information on the Internet to cooking meals in the microwave to having printers at home that can print almost anything almost immediately--remember typewriters and type setters?

This is sad to me in one part because these young people--just as many of their elders--are not learning about process.  They aren't learning about taking the time to do things well, and to let some things happen slowly because that's the best way to have them happen. There are some dishes that we can cook, for example, that take a lot of time because different parts of them take time to prepare. I like making stew, for example, because there are several different parts to the process that all take a bit of time to prepare, but in the end you have a very delicious dinner to eat. When I make a pumpkin pie out of real pumpkin, the pumpkin has to be cooked first, and then the rest of the process can be done. It's not like taking a premade frozen pie out of a box and throwing it in the oven, or buying the completed pie in the bakery section of the supermarket. The process of making it over time gives us not just an extremely tasty pie, but also the sense of accomplishment that comes from taking on a task and seeing it through to the end.

I'm writing a book right now, and I'm working on it about an hour or an hour and a half a day. I don't need it done tomorrow, and by following this process I'm allowing a lot of ideas to develop and grow in my mind. Of course, I have to be true to the schedule--if I stop spending the allotted time on it each day, it will never be finished, of course. But I know from experience that if I set aside an entire week of just writing, all day every day, the book won't get done at all. For me, it's very important to take my time and to pay attention to the process of writing, rather than trying to get it all done in the shortest possible amount of time.

I wish we could teach young people better about processes. I wish we still taught them how to cook good meals instead of ripping open packets and throwing things into the microwave. I wish we taught them how to tear apart engines and put them back together. I wish we taught them about taking our time to make and be friends rather than expecting new people to be our friends immediately. As a teacher, I notice that the young people who have grown up on farms or ranches have a huge advantage in today's world, for they've learned about processes and cycles and patience from day one--after all, you can't make a crop grow any faster and you can't make an animal deliver a baby any quicker. They tend to be much more likely to understand the processes involved in almost anything they do, from reading to writing to mathematics to business, and they're much more likely to be patient when things take their time to reach the point we want them to reach.

Be patient. Recognize that the things of this world work in their time, and that our attempts as human beings to speed things up generally haven't made us happier or healthier (with the obvious exception of many advances in the medical field). The more closely we observe and appreciate the processes of life, the more patient we become, and the more in tune with our planet and the things on it we grow.

Quotes and passages on patience

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