Tuesday, December 1, 2015

You Say Be Patient - But I Do Not Think You Know What It Means

I have lived 54 years and 358 days. That's since I came out of the womb, so I 'lived' 9 months more than that. Well, depending on your point of view, I, as a soul within my body, probably lived a little less. But I digress, possibly a subject for a future blog.

In my 54+ years, I believe I have been extraordinarily patient. Oh sure, as a small child I probably pulled a few tantrums if I didn't get my way. But once I got used to that idea that not everything would go my way, I settled in and waited. I remember asking my sister to play with me, and she said 'in a minute.' Time didn't mean much to me at that age, but the bottom line was: if I wanted to play, I had to wait. I don't remember if she actually played with me, but given my record over the years, probably not. Most likely something else happened that took my mind away from playing, or, my imagination kicked in and I played with myself - not in a dirty way. Shame on you.

I have, what I believe is an uncanny ability to withdraw. My mother used to call say 'Don't go Walter Mitty on me' or something to that effect. I actually liked that movie - the original, not the remake. I could relate to Walter. When things got dull or I had to wait for something, I withdrew into my own little world. Literally. What bugs me about that is why I didn't write things down from the beginning. Maybe the thoughts were too private. Maybe I thought others would kid me about it. Yeah, that's probably it. I've always had a keen sense of what others thought of me.

But the point is, I'm patient. That's something that's being tried at the moment, so I wanted to dip into exactly what I've been patient about over the years.

The old saying 'Good things come to those that wait' has hit me at times, missed a lot more. When it came to girls I could never make the first move, and that's true even today. Even when I did get a date, something usually did or didn't happen to keep the romance flowing. A lot of that was lack of experience. A lot of that was that it takes time to get to know me, and it always seemed like I waited too long to open up, or something happened to tear us apart, like the girl moving away, or me moving away.

Let's put it this way: I admired girls from afar. It might have been creepy from a certain standpoint, but it was just me being me. I offer no ill will toward anyone - with the exception of bullies. I'll admit I got into fights as a kid because I saw or was dealt injustice and I bottled it up until I exploded. I can honestly say no one was seriously harmed in my fights, and I often got the worst of it: Glasses thrown off, a sweater ripped, etc.

But the simple fact was: I was too shy for my own good. That goes beyond being introverted.

I did have one meaningful relationship in my life, in college. She came to me. It produced a daughter. I won't go into details, but the relationship ended. The breakup sorely tested my patience. I couldn't finish my Bachelor's Degree because of the loss of that relationship. It had too profound an affect on me.

So without more than an Associate's degree, I spent years wandering. I went from job to job, from place to place, leaving a job when it was the right time for me, then getting a different job.

I have been a contract programmer for a small company, a file clerk for an insurance company, a slot technician in Las Vegas (after taking an electronics course at a small 'college'), a store clerk in Springfield Mass., a computer operator for a couple of different firms, a salesperson for Radio Shack, an usher for the Colorado Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets and Avalanche, a data entry operator for a Ma Bell company, a COBOL programmer for the same company, all in the space of 15 years.

The list goes on, but the point is I was trying to find what I was good at that I enjoyed. At the same time I was observing different cultures, right here in the Good Ol' USA. I was noticing changes in accents, mannerisms that varied from region to region and how people dressed and generally acted around each other.

I didn't know I was a writer until 1996, when a story came to me so strongly that I felt the need to put pen to paper for the first time. Maybe I'd been preparing myself all those years. I don't know. They say artists have to suffer for their work. What if you don't know you're an artist? I thought I was just a poor loner who was doomed to wander for the rest of his life.

Don't get me wrong. I'm good at a lot of things. Even though I hate anything having to do with phones, I have a pleasant speaking voice and demeanor. So customer service and now technical support were my calling after 2000.

And, of course, computers themselves call out to me. I'm an introverted nerd/geek who can sit for hours in front of a computer, either playing games or typing in general. I've built several of my own computer systems, even thought about going into business custom-building computers - called 'Foxbuilt Computers.' Like all of my other endeavors, it never materialized, but that has never stopped ideas from coming into my head.

Which leads us back to being patient. In all the different jobs I've done, all the different people I've met, I have yet to feel like I've accomplished my given task.

Of course the problem there is I don't know what the given task is. I've written about this before, and it's a major principle of 'Regrets,' and of the song I wrote, aptly named: 'The Job's Not Done.' My song 'Free' speaks of a restless soul, trying to break free.

Yet here I am, sitting in front of my computer, typing this blog, seemingly no closer to my unstated goals than ever.

And here then, is the story of my life: I have been waiting, patiently for the thing I'm supposed to accomplish to happen.

You might say: "But Michael, that's your problem all along. You're not ambitious enough or straightforward enough do be much good to anyone."

To which I might say: "To thine own self be true." I may not be an ambitious money-grubber, willing to walk over anyone in my path. Let's take the 'may' out of that. That's not who I am. I've had the feeling that I've trodden this path before, lived another life before, and I'm willing to bet that I waited for something then too, because the job I'm tasked to do is likely one that will take more than one lifetime.

So if you call yourself patient because you waited in a line for a half-hour, please bear me in mind, who has been patient for lifetimes.