Saturday, February 1, 2014

Untitled Essay on Patience

by Audrey L. Barclay

"Patience is a virtue." Or so we were taught when I was a schoolgirl. It is a virtue with which few of us are born, but must be cultivated daily in order to develop it to best serve our needs. It is not acquired.

While rummaging in a seldom used closet a few days ago I came across several forgotten jigsaw puzzles. Most of them I'd worked more than once, but it had been a long time ago, so with my usual impulsiveness I selected the largest and gaudiest one in the group, set up a card table, and went to work. What matter that there were any number of more worthwhile things I might be doing with the precious time that's passing so rapidly?

I hurriedly stirred the bits of cardboard searching out the straight-edged outer pieces. In no time at all I had the outline in place except for two or three elusive pieces that would, no doubt, be easily found when I started the filling-in process. Then my trouble began.

I separated as many sections as I could find of a building depicted in the picture, and while I was at it I also set aside parts of the flower garden. I thought if I could fit those pieces of the puzzle I could work all around it, filling in from all sides. The afternoon passed, and all I had was perhaps a dozen pieces fitted. And I was as tired as if I'd worked all afternoon, besides being so frustrated I was tempted to chuck the whole thing in the trash can. However, I hadn't time to be bothered with it right then, so I left it to prepare dinner.

While waiting for my meal to cook I wandered back for one last look at the puzzle. Suddenly I was inserting pieces as fast as I could pick them up! They'd been there all the time, but in my impatience I'd been overlooking them. Suddenly it came to me that I'd had as good an illustration of the meaning of "patience" as one could hope to find. I'd had many similar experiences in solving all sorts of puzzles, in sewing, in writing, almost everything I've ever tried to do. When the going got rough and everything I tried to do went wrong, if I got away from it for awhile and put my mind on other things, I could return later to find the problem had all but solved itself.

Patience is not an attribute with which we are born. It often must be learned n the hard school of experience and must be cultivated daily if it is to be kept alive and growing.


Editor's Note: In addition to patience, another quality that Grandma Audrey seems to have found virtuous is frugality. She loved to write, and she wrote on anything and everything. I thought you might enjoy seeing the pages on which she inscribed the above essay:

If you'll click on the images to enlarge them, you'll see the typewriting showing through from the other side of the paper. These were mimeographed sheets headed "General Information" and, judging by the text, had been prepared for distribution to teachers. You might also notice that before Grandma began writing her essay on the back sides of these pages, one corner of the top page had already been used for mathematical calculations.  

I wonder how many of her grandchildren have mastered both patience and frugality. Not I.