Gratitude

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” ~Seneca

I feel gratitude right now. I have felt it before, sometime in college when I realized how lucky I was to have the family I have. Not everyone is so lucky. I didn’t always know that. As is so often true I suppose, I didn’t know it until I needed them. You don’t realize that someone is there to catch you until you fall.

I felt that same gratitude with every hardship I faced, until slowly I learned to stand on my own two feet. I stopped falling, or at least falling so hard.

I feel gratitude again now. I waited a long time for the man who would elicit such a feeling. Truthfully, I didn’t know exactly what I was waiting for, just as you don’t know what the best day of your life will be like until you’re living it.

My sister-in-law gave me a card once. I can’t remember the reason for the card… a birthday maybe. But I do remember what it said. I saved the card and committed the message to memory. It was meant to encourage me–to give me strength to continue waiting. She had waited and found my brother. She knew I was waiting too. The quote was from the movie “How to Make an American Quilt”. It was an excerpt of this:

I know our marriage has as good of a chance of being wonderful as it does missing the mark.  However, I’m banking on our love for each other to weigh a bit heavier on the wonderful side. As Anna says about making a quilt, you have to choose your combination carefully. The right choices will enhance your quilt. The wrong choices will dull the colors, hide their original beauty. There are no rules you can follow. You have to go by your instinct.  And you have to be brave.

Today I’m stepping back to look at my quilt. It’s wonderful. I chose my colors well. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s warm and comforting. At the center of the quilt is the man I chose. Surrounded by him are a wonderful and bright little boy, my step-son; a loving mother-in-law who would give us the world if she could; her husband, who is endlessly patient and kind; and two dogs, full of personality and quirks.  The backing of the quilt is my family, who support and love the colors I’ve chosen. In pieces, we’re chaotic, but sewn together, we make sense. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s my quilt.

I am walking through life, wrapped in soft armor. And I know who to thank for it…

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Riding for the brand

In some states, a brand is still a legally enforceable sign of ownership of livestock and a good deterrent to theft. South Dakota is one of those states. Around this time of year, ranchers are “calving”, and pastures become filled with playful babies and fiercely protective mommas. (If you don’t believe me, stand between a cow and her calf when the calf starts bawling. You’ll learn exactly how fast you can run when a 1500 pound animal charges you.) A few months from now, all the ranchers in the community will start planning their brandings. From sunup to midafternoon, an entire community shows up to help, and then they’re fed and boozed and sincerely thanked. All the ranchers take turns, until every calf in the county is branded.

Branding day

A branding is, in my opinion, a lost form of community that was once a necessity. Now there are very few reasons for people to rely on each other the way a rural community does when a huge task needs to be accomplished. And believe me when I say that rounding up an entire herd of cattle, separating the calves from the cows, vaccinating all the cows, and branding all the calves is a huge task. It would take a family a week to get it done. But it takes a community half a day. People are always glad to help because they’re appreciative of the help they receive when it’s their turn. And while it’s hard work that sometimes leaves you bruised and sore, it’s also a lot of fun. Good conversations are had on horseback, kids learn to rope and have a rare chance to play with the neighbor kids outside of school, and the men take every opportunity to make each other the butt of a joke. Someone inevitably falls in fresh manure or gets tripped by a rope that the horse is pulling a calf with. And if you’ve never been in a rocky mountain oyster fight, you haven’t lived! (Gross!)

Dad's and Grandpa's brands

Livestock branding dates back to several thousand years B.C. In the 1500’s, branding made its way to the Americas by way of the Spaniards. In the time of the Old West, the phrase “ride for the brand” was coined. Brands are legally registered and available for purchase. Both the symbol itself and its location on the animal are part of the brand. The best ones are simple, easy to read, and easy to apply. Good brands are often handed down through generations and can be sold with a ranch. My grandfather’s brand was “lazy B U on the left hip”. Dad uses it now, but his used to be 7NL, which looks the same upside down, so it was easy to apply. My brothers and I all had a brand for the handful of cattle our dad and grandpa gave us. Mostly it was to make us feel special. Mine was “rafter SS”, which looks like two S’s with a roof over them.

A brand is a ranch’s (or rancher’s) trademark and it represents pride and duty. Ranch hands (or cattle hands) in days of old were expected to “ride for the brand”. That meant that they were expected to hold themselves to the standards of the ranch. It meant they could be trusted to treat the ranch as their own; to care for every bull, cow, and calf and make sure they were all accounted for; and to put the welfare of the group above their own personal gain. In return, the rancher treated them like family. There was a fierce sense of loyalty, but at the same time, no contracts were ever signed. The ranch hand was there by choice… he chose to ride for the brand… and could count on being rewarded fairly. In the words of Louis L’Amour, riding for the brand was “an expression of loyalty to a man’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. It was considered a compliment of the highest order in an almost feudal society. If a man did not like a ranch or the way they conducted their affairs he was free to quit, and many did, but if he stayed on, he gave loyalty and expected it.”

But those days are over, and sadly, some of the virtues of the times have gone with them. The Code of the West was a good one though, and even though its origin is foreign to most of us now, I see no reason why young generations shouldn’t strive to uphold it. Shouldn’t we still “ride for the brand” for the company we work for? Like the ranch hands of that time, we are free to leave a company whose mission we don’t believe in or culture we don’t like. If we choose to stay, though, don’t we owe our loyalty to a company that treats us fairly and respectfully?

In relationships as well, shouldn’t we “ride for the brand”? How many times have you heard someone complaining about their significant other? Why? We’re free to go aren’t we? But if we’ve chosen to be involved with someone… especially if we’ve chosen to marry the person and start a family… don’t we owe our loyalty to them? And that includes the times when they aren’t watching or within earshot. The only person you’re hurting is yourself if you choose to live a double life—to be involved in something that you don’t believe in.

No one is perfect, and every day is a new struggle to live a life of integrity… to like the person we see in the mirror every morning. But today I challenge everyone to “ride for the brand”… whatever your brand might be.

I walked across the highway and stepped back in time

This is my second day at the ranch and it’s a beautiful day as South Dakota winter days go. Forty degrees and sunny, with a chilly breeze. I decided it was a perfect day for a walk, and even before I made it up the hill leading away from the house, I knew it would be more than just a walk. It would be healing. It needed to be healing.

I’ve been heartbroken once. Recently, I went through another failed relationship, and while I can’t say that I was broken, I was bruised. I was hurt enough to have a few tearful days and some bitterness. Today I’m content, but not yet at peace. I’m limping back into cautious optimism, but I’m not there yet. So I set out on today’s walk, seeking healing.

I first walked south, past the barns and shops, past all the ranch vehicles and horse trailers and tractors, toward the mailbox at the highway. It’s about a mile long walk to the highway, and all the way there and all the way back, I just thought. I looked inward and I thought. I searched for fault in my actions and lapses in my judgment with this most recent relationship. I searched for the answer to the question ‘what should I have done differently’. I didn’t find the answer, maybe because I was not at fault… or maybe because I can’t yet see the forest through the trees.

I made it back to the barns and shops and decided I wasn’t done yet. So I headed west, up the other gravel road that leads away from the house. I walked past Dad’s cows on my right. They barely looked up at me as I walked by. Then I walked past the two-year old heifers on my left, on the other side of a barbed wire fence. They’re young, pregnant for the first time, and “spooky”. I sneezed and one heifer jumped, causing the entire herd of them to turn and run away from me, toward no particular destination. A few hundred yards later, I came to the highway again, and the “Blair ranch” sign leading into Dad’s place. I stopped and waved at a semi with a load of hay bales driving by. Then I crossed.

Halfway across the highway, I decided that I would walk to the old house… my childhood home… and see what state it was in after being empty for a number of years. So halfway across the highway, I had the distinct feeling of stepping back in time. I had made that walk a hundred times as a little girl, between our house and Grandpa’s, and here I was, walking it again. I slowed down and took it in. I walked past the little pond that I skipped a million stones across. It was iced over, but a layer of water was over the ice. I picked up a stone and threw it high in the air to see if it would break through the ice. It didn’t. I picked up a bigger stone, and then a bigger one.

The ice was solid though, and I walked on, leaving rocks scattered across the frozen pond. I walked up the hill above the pond toward the old house. As I walked up the hill I asked myself what I was searching for, not just today, on this walk, but in general. The answer I gave myself was ‘the happiness I felt as a child’. But even as the thought crossed my mind, I knew that I’d never find it. The happiness that children feel comes from being innocent and unburdened by life’s stresses (if they’re lucky enough to have a stable home life). But after the first broken heart… after the first wound that leaves a scar… that happiness can’t be regained. A new one must be found.

I found myself standing in the shop at the old house. This is where my first buck was mounted on the wall. This is where my dad taught me to fix a flat tire before I was allowed to drive a car. This is where we built Mom’s picnic table and where Dad came running from when I crashed my bike into the cattle guard nearby on the day I (sort-of) learned to ride a bike. I kept walking, and crossed that cattle guard, looking down at the iron slats that permanently scarred my forehead. I walked up the driveway to the old house. The little shed where our dogs always slept was still there but the tree house Dad built us was gone. The lawn had turned to weeds and the house didn’t look welcoming anymore. I went in anyway. I didn’t shut the door behind me.

For several minutes, I just stood inside the doorway. It was my house, but it wasn’t. It smelled musty and unlived in. It was dirty and empty and different. But I stood there and allowed a million memories to wash over me, and I let the new sights and smells give way to the old ones. Once again I could smell lemon Pinesol from Mom’s cleaning. I could smell supper in the oven.

(In rural South Dakota, the meals are breakfast, dinner, and supper. If lunch is a home-cooked meal, it’s called dinner. If it’s just a sandwich, it might be called lunch.)

It was no longer there, but I could see the TV stand Dad made and mounted, holding up the old TV with knobs to change channels and rabbit ears to find stations. I could see the orange carpeting and ugly wood paneling on the walls. I could hear laughter at the dinner table. I walked into my old bedroom, just past the kitchen and turned a circle in the middle of the room, amazed at how small it seemed. Even the closet seemed tiny… the closet I made into my personal hideout where I would read. I stared at the floor of it, seeing myself as a little girl, with a lamp for light, a pillow and blanket for comfort, and a stack of books that I couldn’t wait to soak up. It didn’t seem tiny then.

I did this with every room in the house, until I was thoroughly lost in a previous lifetime, and I was hesitant to stop when I made my way to the end of the second story of the house. No more house to walk through. So I slowly made my way back out, and stood just inside the door for a few more minutes before stepping back outside. I closed the door, put my headphones back in, and started walking back toward the highway. Back toward today.

I said before that I was seeking healing… and happiness. As I made my way back to the highway I brought God into the introspection I was doing. And I started saying my favorite prayer, the Our Father. There’s a part that always resonates with me.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….  Lord, forgive me and help me forgive. Help me let go of the bitterness, because it feels like poison inside me.

Lead us not into temptation… God there is so much temptation in the world. I struggle to recognize what temptations I should avoid. In seeking love, we face temptation. Isn’t it ok to move toward it? So far, that has only led to pain. How can I recognize when it is right?

…but deliver us from evil. Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day.  I pray for peace for others, but never for myself. Lord, today I’m asking for peace in my day.

In your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety.  I always say that part twice. Lord, protect us from all anxiety, because I feel like once we leave childhood behind, it’s one anxiety after another, and it’s exhausting. This, I believe, is the greatest challenge we face as human beings. I believe it’s the reason we’re here… to accept the life we’re given and let go of the anxiety we feel. Trust in God that He has a plan for us, and that it is never what we assume (or want). That is the happiness I now seek… the freedom from anxiety.

More than an hour has passed and I’m about to go back down the hill to the new house. It’s time to bring this healing session to a close. It’s been good. I could use another hour but it will come, all in good time. Before I go home, though, I put one last song on my iPod (and think to myself that my iPod doesn’t belong in such a peaceful place).

Galileo.

“And as the bombshells of my daily fears explode, I try to trace them to my youth.

…I’m serving time for mistakes made by another in another lifetime.

…How long till my soul gets it right? Can any human being ever reach that kind of light?”

Finding My Nurturing Side

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve thought to myself, “I don’t think I’m very good at being a woman.” I’d have a lot of dollars. I don’t really believe that I’m BAD at being a woman. I just seemed to have missed the boat on a few things, and some of them I’m glad to have missed. For example, I never think to buy a cute card, fill it with words of encouragement, and send it to a female friend of mine after talking to her about a difficult time in her life. Women have done that for me and it’s wonderful. Instead I fully engage in a good conversation and then try to infect her with my “do-er” mentality. Forget about it and DO something. I’ll help. If we can do something to fix the problem, great, but if not, let’s find something different to throw our energy into and get our minds off of it. This approach is not exactly nurturing.

I never wake up on a Saturday morning and have the urge to fill my house with the smell of freshly baked pastries for people (I’m not sure whom) to enjoy over the weekend. I have a mother and aunts and cousins who do that and it’s wonderful (but not good for my waistline). Instead, I wake up and decide whether I’m going to work out before or after breakfast, and I hurry to the gym to put my body through as much physical strain as possible while I pump the week’s stress into some iron and then sweat the rest out on the stair climber. When I am sufficiently exhausted, I go home and eat a high-protein meal, clean up, put on more workout clothes, and get on to the next physical activity, preferably outdoors. At no point am I fixing my hair or shopping or doing my nails or tying on an apron. Those things are irritating necessary evils to be avoided whenever possible.

I do not give off an impression of softness and sweetness. I’ve been around women like that, and they’re calming and wonderful. They have sweet voices and a tenderness about them that makes you want to be gentle toward them. When I’m around women like that I become acutely aware of the fact that I sometimes sound like a foul-mouthed sailor. My movements and thoughts and voice are not like that at all. My drinks of choice are beer and whiskey. I love muscle cars and motorcycles and hunting deer in the frigid South Dakota cold. I own power tools and a shop vac. I prefer black coffee over tea and hiking boots over high heels. And I’d rather throw away a pair of pants than get out a sewing kit and mend them.

So you see, I have plenty of reasons to think that I’m not very good at being a woman.

But a funny thing happened when a man came into my life recently.

I wanted to feed him.

I’ve been contemplating this phenomenon… examining this funny urge in myself that seems to have come about since I met this irresistibly handsome and oh-so-manly man who is wonderful to me. From the very first time we had a meal together that wasn’t at a restaurant, I have wanted to prepare and serve food for him. I couldn’t help but chuckle at myself a little bit as I shop-vacced the dust off my spice rack (kidding) and tried to remember how to make food look and taste good rather than simply act as fuel. I found myself spending time thinking about meals ahead of time and taking twice as long in the grocery store as I resurrected mom’s best recipes. Soul food. Hearty food. Fill him up and leave him satisfied. Nurtured.

Make no mistake, I’m just as rough around the edges as I’ve always been. I still haven’t pulled an apron out. But I found a nurturing part of myself that hadn’t shown itself in a while. Maybe I’ll fill my kitchen with pastry smells someday soon…

after my workout.

To a Strong Woman… and Back Again

I mastered it. The art of being a strong, independent woman. Somewhere in my early 20’s, I figured out how to not need anything from anyone. I didn’t need to waste my time on a relationship. I was busy getting my education. I had a goal in mind… a successful career that would require a graduate degree, publications, long hours in a high rise office.

I would make money, I decided. I would be able to provide a good life for myself and if the time ever came, I’d be able to send my kids to Ivy League schools if they chose to go to one. The idea of a husband didn’t really come into the picture, although I knew it was a necessary detail. I would do it. That’s all that mattered.

Why would I do it? Because I had something to prove. A sheltered childhood left me ill-equipped for the world that would greet me when I struck off on my own, as a barely-18 year-old girl who weighed 100 pounds soaking wet. I learned the hard way that not everyone has good intentions. I learned that your first love might cheat on you with a woman of questionable morals. That you might get your heart broken because someone’s addiction is stronger than their love for you. I learned that you can’t keep a routine, because someone might study it. I learned that it’s not safe to go places alone at night. That you have to worry about parking garages and dark stairwells and telling people where you live. I learned that a lot of men aren’t like my dad. I’d been hurt. I’d been scarred. And for a while, I’d been beaten by life.

But you can only live that way… feeling beaten… for so long. Then you decide that you aren’t going to let the trials of life win. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and decide that you’re stronger than that. I began a journey to build a fortress around myself. I became smarter. I became tougher. Harder. Stronger. I faced my fears head-on. And before I knew it, there I was… a strong, independent woman. I had my career. I owned my home. I learned that with perseverance, I can overcome anything that might stand in my way.

I did it on my own. And as a result, I was alone.

Men, you’ve all met a woman like I described above. There’s not much you can say or do to convince her to let her guard down. Most men walk away from a woman like that. Or they latch onto her because her confidence makes up for the confidence they’re lacking, and eventually, she walks away from them. Men have told me I’m intimidating. Men have told me they feel they have nothing to offer me. How wrong they were. But still, it kept me alone.

But the pendulum always swings back in the other direction. My defenses served me well, as they do all women who are trying to protect themselves. But my perspective has changed again. I’m in a different place in life and the tint on the lense has changed once more. I’ve healed. And now I realize… I don’t want to be so strong.

Men, take note. When you meet a woman, regardless of how tough her façade is, treat her as if she’s delicate. Because she is. Recognize that even if she’s the CEO of some big corporation, she still worries about what you think of her. She still feels insecurities and is thrown out of her element by hormones from time to time. When she questions you, open your eyes to the reason behind her questions. Even if she’s a beautiful, intelligent, seemingly confident woman, she still wants/needs that one man to show her kindness and affection. She needs his reassurance. If she walks away angry, she wants him to follow. She’ll show her insecurity with defensiveness. Ignore her walls. Let her know that you see through them and that you’ll walk through them and that you’ll be there to catch her when she needs you.

Even the strongest woman needs a man who lets her be soft and sensitive. We want to be the weaker sex. When a man recognizes this and treats us accordingly, it’s like a sigh of relief. A burden taken off of us that we’ve been carrying since the first time we caught a glimpse of how cruel the world can be. When you see what’s underneath our tough outer shell, you give us permission to be the person we really are… be the thing that comes natural to us. Feminine. And it elevates that man in our minds to be the only one who ‘gets it’. The one who makes us feel safe. He is the man; she is the woman.

His woman.

Irish Whiskey and Chance Encounters

From across the patio, he saw her emerge from a crowd of people. The voice of the person speaking to him fell silent in his ears, and the crowd around her seemed to fade into a distant background, framing her as she moved. She was effortlessly elegant and yet she looked as if she hadn’t concerned herself with getting ready for this event. She was wearing a sundress with tiny straps over her shoulders, a scooped neckline, and thin material flowing seamlessly to her ankles. It hugged her enough to outline her hourglass figure, but fit loosely enough to leave something to the imagination. Her figure was perfectly proportioned. Shadows fell into the lines of her toned body, and forced his eyes to trace every one of them until stopped by clothing. She had pulled her hair up loosely, allowing attention to be drawn to her jawline, elegant neck, and the outline of her collarbone. A few strands of hair fell in loose curls around her face and neck. Her skin was as smooth as glass and just a shade or two darker than ivory. Her hair was nearly jet black—the contrast striking. Her thick eyebrows drew his gaze to her amber eyes, standing out like jewels in a velvet casing. There was a hint of shine on her lips, but if she wore any makeup at all, it was expertly camouflaged into her natural beauty. He must have studied her for five minutes before he realized he was still engaged in a conversation. He excused himself politely and moved away to a place where he could watch her without being obvious.

When he caught sight of her again, she had been stopped by a handsome young man. She smiled at him, her head titled slightly. He could see her mouthing the words “thank you”, surely in response to the compliments the man was piling on her. She humored him for a few short minutes before dismissing him and moving on. She moved slowly, as if she knew she was constantly being watched. Her every movement seemed planned—scripted—and yet she seemed incognizant of herself, focused only on deciding where to go. She finally found her way to an empty place at the shaded bar near the pool. She seemed relieved to be out of the crowd, but the relief lasted only a few seconds. Another man had approached her, and she began the same song and dance with this man, graciously thanking him for his comments on her beauty. She smiled at him as well, but hidden in her smile was a knowledge that this was to be expected, and after this man would come another.

Watching her from a distance as he was made him suddenly, painfully aware of his loneliness. It was as if a crater was growing in the pit of his stomach, making him ache for her—for this woman he didn’t know. Even as the thought crossed his mind, he thought himself foolish for assuming that she would fulfill him in some way that he had never experienced. He pictured her sitting next to him, resting her lovely head on his shoulder. He could sense how she would feel in his arms. This woman, he decided, was what God intended when he created the feminine form. She embodied beauty, softness, grace, and sensuality. In her wake she left a trail of men yearning for her but baffled as to how to capture her attention. He would have to be different, he thought, as he moved toward her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I’d like two of whatever the lady is drinking,” he said to the bartender as he took his place beside her. She looked up at the stranger who had been so bold. She studied him for a minute, and he held her gaze as naturally as if he had looked at her a million times. She turned to the bartender and said “Jameson on the rocks.” He raised an eyebrow. “Well done,” he said.

“Let me guess. You expected me to order a glass of wine or something with a cute name?” She didn’t look at him again while she spoke. She kept her eyes on the bartender, purposefully discounting him as just another drone who would buy her a drink with false hope of some appreciation from her.

“No,” he said. “I just like your choice in whiskey. Irish blends happen to be my favorite.”

“Mine too,” she said. “If I’m going to drink, I like to know that I’m drinking. I like the harshness. And it was my grandfather’s favorite, so my preference is a little sentimental.”

“No complaints here,” he said. He put money for the drinks on the bar and picked up his glass of whiskey. He raised the whiskey to toast her. She brought her glass up to meet his, and he said “To Irish whiskey and chance encounters.” She clinked his glass, and politely made eye contact while they both took a drink. Then he turned to leave. This was the last thing she expected, and the surprise showed on her face as she watched him moving away.

“Wait a minute!” she called after him. “Aren’t you even going to ask my name?”

“No,” he said as he smiled. “Have a pleasant evening.” And he turned again to leave, this time walking away and out of sight. She cocked her head in disbelief, feeling robbed of her opportunity to dismiss him like all the others. As he disappeared into the crowd, he could feel her eyes on him and sense her intrigue. He would see her again, he thought, if fate would be so kind. And she would remember him.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

I received a text message from a friend this morning that said “Why are most women so sporadic in their behavior? They want one thing one day and something completely different the next day.”

My response was: “I can’t answer for others, but mostly I think it’s because people want instant gratification. We live in a world where everything’s available NOW, and if it’s not, then we’re on to the next thing. People don’t have patience anymore.”

My assumption about the issue my friend was facing must have been right, because my answer satisfied him… and then he asked me if I’d like to run off and get married. A shining example of patience himself. 🙂

Lest you think I am writing from a holier-than-though perspective, I actually have been thinking about this topic lately because patience is something I struggle with myself. We all know the saying “good things come to those who wait,” but how many of us are good at sitting and waiting? I’m certainly not. I’m an action taker. I like to set my sights on a goal and make things happen. But life doesn’t always lend itself to that attitude—relationships especially, but it’s also true of career paths, getting to where you want to be financially, and for some unlucky couples, adding to a family. Sometimes we just have to wait.

Generations before us didn’t have internet. They didn’t have email and cell phones and instant messaging. Once upon a time they didn’t even have fax machines. They relied on snail mail and face-to-face conversations to communicate information. It’s hard to imagine having a relationship that way. Or getting any kind of work done. When the network at my office crashes, we all emerge into the hallway and stare at each other, lost. Handicapped.

I had a bout of puppy love in high school, with a guy a year older than me. He went away to college and left me pining for the day I would get to see him again. We wrote emails daily, relying on horribly unreliable dial-up internet connections. We sent each other hand-written letters, sprayed with perfume and sealed with a lipstick kiss. (I did that, not him, thankfully.) And I counted the days until Christmas break. I had an achy feeling every time I would read one of his heartfelt messages to me. I hated the waiting. But I had patience. He was worth waiting for.

That is… until I started partying during the last half of my senior year. I discovered Busch Lite and bonfires. My relationship took a backseat, and eventually I forgot that it was still in the car. Not one of my prouder moments.

I read somewhere that emails and text messages killed the love letter. It’s true, don’t you think? We don’t have to wait days or even hours to share our loving thoughts for someone. The thoughts barely have time to sink into our consciousness before they’re launched into cyberspace in the form of a text message. It’s not necessary to choose words carefully… to make sure that we’re expressing ourselves fully because we only have one chance at it. And because of that, I don’t think people give love the time it needs to solidify. Love doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen after two or three good dates. It happens over time, through shared experiences and mutual respect that takes time to earn. But our culture is so used to instant gratification that we see a light peeking through a crack… a tiny chance at love… and we throw ourselves through the door only to extinguish the flame by our own actions. No patience.

How many military men and women have deployed and come home to find out that their beloved spouse has cheated on them or left them for another. No patience. How many people have left a job after only a year or two, because they’re not seeing the leaps in salary they’d hoped for? No patience. How many people have found themselves hurt by the fact that a text message they sent wasn’t responded to within an hour. No patience.

Technology has advanced to the point that we don’t have to wait for anything. We aren’t trained to wait. We’re a society of shakers-and-movers. If you aren’t moving at my pace, I’m leaving you behind. The bad part about this is, sometimes the best opportunities in life… the best people you’ll ever meet, the best job you’ll ever have… isn’t moving at your pace. So you leave it behind. And eventually, it leaves you behind.

Good things come to those who wait.

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