On my way out of the Laramie rec center I walked past a playground. The usual screams and squeals of children playing filled the warm spring air. Through the cacophony of sounds I heard a girl shout, "I'M NOT A PATIENT PERSON!" She was angry and tired of being passed over for her turn on the slide. I walked on and then heard her add, "There ARE more patient people here." I could tell from her increasingly distraught voice that her chance of getting a turn on the slide was slipping through her small, quivering hands.
Patience has never been something I possess, nor frankly something I believe is universally good. I was shaped by a church that says there is virtue in bearing one's burdens with endurance. The longer we suffer through, never giving in to anger or insisting on our own way, the more likely we are to achieve sainthood. Which, from where the little girl was standing, is a pretty shitty way to spend one's life.
This afternoon I heard a boy shout, "We always go that way. I HATE that way!" I looked out our patio screen door and saw a mom and two children riding their bikes down 13th street. "We're going straight," said the mom, as the boy quickly turned left onto Boswell, pedaling away as fast as he could. The mom and her other child kept on, sticking to the prescribed route. The boy, I can only surmise, eventually wound his way home and there faced punishment for defying his mother. I can also imagine it was totally worth it.
Where did we get the idea that the virtuous path is always one of patience? Or of always following the rules? Patience, when employed in the wrong situation, leads to needless suffering. Conforming in ways that go against our natural gifts and desires leads to needless heartache. I realize I am not these children's mother and so I don't feel the responsibility that comes with raising them to be good people. But then what isn't good about learning to express one's anger and insisting on one's own way when life warrants it? (And it will.) What isn't good about needing to find one's own way rather than the path that's expected of him? I for one am proud of these misfit children. I for one am inspired by them.