Saturday, June 6, 2009

Patience and Discipline

In "Losing Mum and Pup" Christopher Buckley says in discussing his father, William F. Buckley Jr., "Great men are also impatient." Unfortunately, my rudimentary knowledge of logic tells me that the inverse is not true.  Impatient men (or women) are not necessarily great men (or women).  

I have struggled with impatience all my life.  I am now also struggling with a lack of discipline in most areas.  The two seem related to me because the desire to have things right away is a cause of the inability to stick to something long term and plug away at a project.  These two features are not necessarily the same, because you can be impatient and still work on long term projects like books or cross oceanic sailing ventures, as did William Buckley, Jr.  The trick of pushing aside your impatience is an understanding that you must plug away at something to accomplish something and your drive for accomplishment must outweigh your impatience.

This week I found on the internet an old friend from graduate school.  As it turns out she has published an academic book that I was able to order on Amazon.  I started reading it yesterday and was reminded of a conversation I had with this same woman probably 15 years ago before she moved to England (she teaches at Cambridge now).  She told me that she was trying to discipline herself to be more serious and had given up reading the comics in the morning newspaper.  Say it ain't so, I told her.  What else amusing is there in the morning?  Well I guess that form of discipline is the sort of stuff that allows you to write and publish a book of some substance.  I, on the other hand, still read the comics and find that my new "internet habit" eats up so much time that I cannot even read 50 page briefs anymore without incessantly checking FB and Twitter.  (Then again, no one should beat themselves up for not having the discipline to read a 50  page brief!)

Then, this week during a yoga class (something I have also not been doing lately), the person leading the class kept repeating the words "discipline" and "focus".  Hah.  I did okay for most of the two hour class but could not wait to get back to my ADD enhancing existence of the internet.  If you are not born with ADD,  FB and Twitter will give it to you.

Then there is the issue of discipline as it relates to food.  Leaving aside the Gina Kolata thesis that discipline is not at issue with those who are overweight,  I feel frustrated that I no longer have the discipline to monitor my food intake.  My sister managed to lose a lot of weight and gain a lot of energy from disciplined food monitoring and restriction.  I cannot do it right now.  

So where does that leave me in my quest for discipline?  I try to be patient with myself and say that everyday is part of a process.  Indeed, I just had someone tell me that living with 8 people in my house means I am very patient.  Maybe all my patience and discipline is used up by the management of my current life--working and taking care of a large family, including way too many animals.  I just want to hope that there is a deeper reservoir somewhere within that I can tap so that I can start that book I have always wanted to write.   

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