I am easily bored. And distracted. And… oh, sorry. What was I saying? I think a cat wandered by the window.
Anyway, I think of myself as a person without much patience, tending to want instant results, unwilling to put in the time. I suspect that some of you who have known me for a long time and have watched me change “careers” every three years think of me the same way. But I’m starting to think that maybe this particular part of my self-image is inaccurate. Certainly I am easily bored. And frustrated. I don’t suffer organizational politics gladly, and I find that hours and hours of commuting to get to a job drains my life force, no matter how much I love the job in question.
When I spent the weekend knitting in public, I heard the comment again and again, “Oh, I would never have the patience.” I have found myself saying the same thing to people over things that look so repetitive that I’d just need to… well. Quit.
I think that we are not using the word to refer to the same thing. I am certainly willing to wait for outcomes; I have grown garlic and leeks, and planted asparagus four times without a harvest to show yet after 12 years (I’m sure that the fourth time is the charm). I can put in the hours: I have knit five pairs of socks, several scarves, and a couple of sweaters in the last year. I have procreated and made life choices that involve spending significant amount of time with small people whose main goal in life is to test the boundaries of their egos against mine. I can even keep my cool in challenging situations. Some of the time.
I do finish stuff. I undertake enormous projects like degrees, or technical specifications, or complete course designs. But medium-sized projects are most promising. I think I excel at the 200 hour project, not the 2000 or 10,000 hour one. I want something tangible to show at the end of it all, which is why I am willing to spend 30 hours wrestling 2500 words into a reasonable order. But I’m willing to revisit a particularly thorny intellectual problem year after year after year, as long as I feel like I’m making progress.
What I don’t have the patience for is the interminable tasks – the laundry, the dishes, the accounting. These are the ones that are never finished, and for which we have nothing to show, because other people come along and undo our work before we have completed the task. There is nothing that makes me snap so effectively as walking away from a clean counter to hang up the dishcloth and coming back to find that somebody has placed something on my new work surface in the intervening 15 seconds. Demoralizing. Unless it is the colleague that is withholding information or professional contacts to maintain control of a project. Infuriating. I’ve had both those kinds of jobs. And I can say without a doubt, I don’t have the patience.