Inevitably, as the first week of January passes, it becomes evident that vision boards and inspirational mantras will only go so far in maintaining momentum towards the realization of New Year resolutions made. In the walking out of short-term and long-term strategies towards the achievement of creative, career and life goals, hope, endurance and optimism are instrumental in maintaining progress throughout the upcoming year—but of all the virtues that prove essential towards realizing year-round success, patience is key.
It can be a challenge to accept or tolerate hiccups or delays in a culture that values and worships immediate gratification—the expectation of which has been shaped and cemented with the advent of technology. Over time, with repeated delays in the attainment of creative goals and dreams, patience can wane and give way to anxiety and anger—which unaddressed can metabolize into depression and boredom, and eventually apathy. In the face of this reality, a certain level of detachment from personal ambitions is helpful towards cultivating patience through the practice of self-care of the mind, body and spirit through prayer, meditation, mindfulness and healthful living as you wait on the seeds of your creative work to take root and blossom. In taking the time to nurture yourself, and others through community service, the pressure of unmet expectations can be alleviated, reverting focus from a consumer-driven mindset to a producer’s outlook centered and steadied by patience—while also cultivating other sustainable attributes and fruits of the spirit such as: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and discipline in the process.
The virtue of patience is illustrated multiple times within scripture through the metaphor of farming and harvesting, alongside advisories of the wait time involved in the production of seeds planted in faith. With every creative investment, there is a certain amount of work that belies the actual planting of the seeds, in the irrigation and fertilization of the fields, as the seeds grow. To continue watering and working the soil in which you have planted requires a higher level of patience that is generally easier said than done, especially when the growth or health of the roots of your work are unable to be seen. With some creative projects and endeavors, the DNA of the seed has not been programmed to sprout immediately. Some seeds produce plants that grow and blossom year-round. Others are annual or biennial, and only live for a season, versus perennials. And then there are plants that experience a period of dormancy before producing fruit—but they still require the same amount of care and level of patience, if not more, as others that sprout and flower more immediately.
Jazz master and architect, Duke Ellington once stated: “A musical profit outweighs a financial loss.” It can be a hard precept to remember, when stakes are high and the time-clock of responsibility is staring you down, but it is a reminder of the equity of the seed of art planted and the patience that is needed towards realizing the potential yield of individual creative gifts in the macro.
At the outset of another New Year, the resolution to exercise patience results in a primary defense against anger, depression and apathy, which in turn safeguards against the corrosion of faith, discipline and optimism. Patience proves preventive towards thoughts and individual outlook becoming overworked and calloused by doubt and also allows for restoration from the pursuits of creative and career ambitions through the practice of self-care. In the process, as artists, we eventually learn how to let the elements of culture and environment work in our favor--allowing for maximum development of our individual gifts--while developing into the master producers and creators we were designed to become.