autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Perspective and Patience

It is odd and funny how perspective can be so very different. I think of myself as an incredibly patient person; I endure things without saying a word far longer than anyone else I know, and I never take action until I know I’ve really allowed whatever has moved me to act has been carefully considered. The caveat of course, is when there is violence involved; those reflexes are still here, still honed sharp, and are permitted to operate without impediment from my mind.

Examples from life that demonstrate patience include the two and a half years I spent nursing, cleaning up after, and generally committed to a frail old woman with more bile, hatred, and vindictiveness in her little finger than a KKK member would have in their entire body. I’ve both taught and mentored youth, served as a crisis-hotline volunteer, and am the shoulder and ear and counsel for the great majority of my professional as well as social circles.

So you might imagine my state of bemusement and being nonplussed when just now, in the middle of an otherwise professional exchange, someone said to me, “Bonnie, a puppy has more patience than you.”

The thing is, I get why they think this is the case. I can even (almost) see how it is all but impossible not to reach that conclusion. But it stung. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting here trying not to cry. Has it gotten this bad; that it is so easy to ignore all the things and reasons that are otherwise readily admitted and just chalk it up to “you’re impatient”?

I told this person, “You know, I’m really not impatient at all,” and they laughed; I held up my hand, “Let me explain this…” and they realized I was serious, so they stopped laughing and listened.

What I said to them was this, “I am not impatient. But I do have a certain level of reasonable expectation as a professional and a technologist; an expectation that people pay attention, they do not agree or say something that has capacity for impact without understanding what that impact may be; that each of us, by virtue of being employed here, has the competence and personal interest in doing their job, working for the greater good of the company, and assisting one another as is needed to affect these ends.”

He was nodding his understanding and agreement, and I could tell by the look in his eye that he knew where I was headed as I continued, “When these things are not true or people are not operating in alignment with them, yes, I get annoyed and yes, I tend to push all the harder toward that common goal because, frankly, someone has to make up for the dead weight introduced by it.”

He grimaced slightly and I realized once again that most people just dislike bluntness in any form; either they can’t handle it or they misinterpret it as intentional disdain, no one seems possessed of any sense of literal, neutral statements of logic anymore. He nodded but said nothing and returned to his desk. I’m certain I did not at all manage to convey what I was attempting to convey, but then, people only really ever hear what they want to, so this does not surprise me.

I continued the conversation in my head, mostly just to finish the thought and follow the chain to its conclusion, “I’m sure from the outside, it looks like I’m ‘just being impatient’ but from where I am sitting, I am disgusted and disappointed that I have to acknowledge that someone I like, someone I hold with respect, and someone I count on to be just as motivated and interested in this work as I am….. not only isn’t, they don’t want to be, or, worse, they actually do not think that being so for anyone’s sake other than their own is even worth consideration.”

I popped this notepad editor open to dash all this off and post it here. Mostly to remind myself that perspectives are, for almost all of us, reality. Also to remind myself that what I know of myself and my motivations will always trump the assumptions and judgments of others. Finally, to document for whomever might care to read it that no matter how it may look to you, I am always and ever only trying to find the absolute best I have to give and yes, as unrealistic and silly and idealistic and naive and [insert term here] as it may seem, I really DO assume the rest of the world is operating from the same motivation and intention.

I have to remain convinced of this because it is a fundamental part of how and why I can continue to endure the labels, aspersions, and disappointments I find in times like this…. it’s easier to believe someone is ignorant than that they are willfully and maliciously stupid.

Or, in other words, it helps me be patient. (crooked smile)