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Submitted by edoardoballerini on Thu, 10/20/2011, 11:00am
One of my personal samsaric cycles looks something like this:
- be busy with enjoyable work
- feel like the good times will never end
- the good times inevitably end
- not be busy with enjoyable work
- feel like the bad times will never end
- and eventually... be busy with enjoyable work again
Right now, I'm in the "bad times."
My life is boom and bust, and always has been. That’s the nature of my stock and trade: professional actor. The crack-like high of working on a project you love seems always, always to be followed by the junkie-like low of scrounging for another fix with no cash in your pocket. But patience, I’m told, will see me through.
We think of patience as a high-minded virtue, though I suspect Ambrose Bierce’s definition is more accurate: “Patience: A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.” Patience is, inherently, painful. Patience is suffering. Patience... hurts like hell.
Every passing day of the “bad times” gets exponentially worse. The shore gets further and further away as you drift towards the horizon. And everything, but everything, feels like nails down a chalkboard. There is no relief.
But am I not being patient? I’ve not torn too many clumps of hair out of my head, or yelled at customer service for no reason. I’m keeping busy in the healthiest ways I know how: going back to the gym, learning some new scales on the guitar, reading books and scripts, sitting for photographers, rearranging the furniture and keeping the house in order.
But it still drives me mad. So what am I not doing?
Finally, it struck me: Patience is not passive.
The same curiosity required to investigate our suffering is required of patience. Patience is not held at bay by keeping busy here and there, it is the honest accounting of feelings during the very act of being patient. That, I admit, had escaped me.
Rather, my approach was to skim through distractions rather than be fully engaged with them, or anything else, let alone patience itself. And wouldn’t you know it, my meditation practice has become inconsistent, despite having more time than I know what to do with.
Irony? Maybe. Coincidence? No. Just not taking patience seriously for the hurt that it can be.
Well... on that note... take us out, boys:
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