As I type this, I am freezing. Locked in an ongoing battle over how cold my apartment is. I imagine this is what a polar bear stuck on a Caribbean island might feel like: intense dislike for every nanosecond of discomfort. But then I start dreaming about a Caribbean island…
Come back. I’m trying “to be with” the discomfort. Nope…not happening yet. My cold fingers and toes are screaming decibels for my attention. Take a deep breath, I say, and try to feel the middle ground. Umm…I’m cold. Make me warm. Right. Now. Nothing else will make me complete, happy, or fulfilled. For the rest of my life.
How long is this pause anyway? It’s really tempting to give up when things aren’t rosy. We tend to live at two extremes: happiness is having all of our ducks lined up in a row, nice and neat. The other extreme is our human tendency to pitch ourselves into the abject throes of aversion: why are things this way, we mentally demand of our reality, a hundred thousand times a minute? And it feels as if it’s lasting forever!
Deep down inside, I know that I am fighting (kicking! screaming at!) the cold feeling. When we get stuck in wondering how long the pause must last, it’s useful to remember that just as mindfulness is a muscle that is developed over time, so too is patience. This isn’t a promise of constant pleasantness, but it is a promise of more enduring equanimity.
Will I die of cold? Probably not (no matter what my unhappy mind thinks!). But the patience that is being cultivated will surely far outlive this frigid moment in time. Now to find my gloves 🙂