I came out of the womb an impatient little bugger. Hated waiting for anything or anybody.

I’ll never forget combing through a box of memorabilia a few years ago and coming across a letter my counselor wrote to my parents at the conclusion of my three-week stint at Camp Manitowish in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, the summer between sixth and seventh grade.

The gist of the letter was, “David was a good kid and excelled at many of our activities, though he could have been a bit more patient with his fellow campers.”

My kids force patience upon me

My impatience followed me into adulthood. But a few years after getting married, I finally came face to face with the greatest enemy an impatient person can face: Kids! In all seriousness, having kids was the best thing that could have happened to me in terms of getting my impatience under control.

Why? Any of you parents out there know the answer, but for those of you who aren’t, the answer is simple: To keep one’s sanity, any parent MUST develop patience.

Quick example. You’ve got a big meeting at nine a.m. It’s 8:20 and your four-year-old daughter refuses to cooperate in getting herself ready for school. You try to put on her shoes, socks, pants and shirt and she kicks wildly, saying she doesn’t want to go to school. But you and your wife have to be at work and simply can’t have her stay home.

To explode or not to explode…

Your options? Blow your stack and try to force the clothes onto her. Problem is that this will often take longer because of the fighting and running away from you and yada, yada, yada.

The better choice? PATIENCE. Breathe…Deeply…Slowly…

Then think. Calmly. Rationally. What will work?

She likes to have her back tickled. So you start doing that. Patiently. After a minute, she’s calmed down a bit. Without saying a word, you slowly start putting her shirt on. She doesn’t resist. Eureka!

The choice: Insanity or patience

You get the drift. The point is, you have to stop, calm down and be patient as a parent. This has forced me to become more patient. Again, and I’m not even exaggerating much, when I became a parent, the choice was to either go insane or work on becoming more patient.

When it comes to traveling the spiritual path, patience is even more indispensable. How so? I’ll relate my experience of late to illustrate.

As many of you know, I’ve been trekking the spiritual path for many years now. That has included regularly meditating and practicing mindfulness and working hard to relax and let go when my ego rears its “Me, Me, Me!” head.

Challenging times of late

The past several weeks have been challenging on the spiritual front. How? Nothing awful. No cancer diagnoses or major problems with my family.

Part of it has been a general malaise on the work front which, for me, is largely about writing these articles. The combination of four years of regularly writing articles on spirituality and a nosedive on every conceivable metric on my Medium numbers has me feeling a bit lackluster of late.

A malaise phase

How does that manifest? Mostly as a low-level feeling of angst and mental enervation.

This state leads me to think lots of thoughts. About what? “What am I doing? Should I keep on writing? Do YouTube videos? Switch to Substack?” Etc, etc, etc.

The wiser, deeper part of me knows that is mostly my ego acting up. Fear. Pride. Insecurity. They’re all ego and they’re all at the heart of most of these thoughts.

Patience and spiritual growth

And that gets us, finally!, to the subject at hand: Patience and spiritual growth. Because as I’ve encountered these challenging past several weeks, it has occurred to me time and again that patience is the whole ballgame.

How? Let me start with a simple, relatable scenario where every day patience is absolutely necessary for success.

The Ikea challenge

You buy a chair from Ikea that needs assembling. You unpack and lay out all the parts then get to work. Everything’s fine until you hit one area that just won’t fit. You’ve followed the directions, but it just won’t fit. You tinker. Then tinker some more. Still no luck.

At this point, you have two options. One, you can throw in the towel, say screw it and return the damn chair. Second, you can step back, take a few breaths, go back a few steps and inspect what you’ve already done, and see if you’ve made a mistake along the way.

In other words, you can be PATIENT. And I don’t know about you, but most of the time, when I take this route, I figure out the problem, fix it and all is well.

Spiritual patience

The spiritual predicament is similar. The patience involved isn’t about figuring something out and fixing it, as with the chair. It’s much simpler.

It’s about repeatedly, many times a day, day after day, reminding myself that I am the sky and the clouds are simply things that are happening, that come and then go. The clouds, in this case, are those feelings and thoughts of malaise, fear and insecurity.

In other words, my work is to simply watching those thoughts and feelings arise and then pass, without engaging with them. Or being frustrated by them.

And what does that take?


A whole heck of a lot of it. And it can be exhausting. It involves the near constant reminding of:

“I hear it. I feel it. It’s okay. Just relax and let it pass…”

What’s the analogous spiritual response to throwing up our hands and giving up on the Ikea chair? It’s getting so frustrated with traveling the path that we give up. We stop meditating. Stop trying to let go of ourselves. The whole schmear.

The takeaway

And that is why patience is so indispensable to spiritual growth. We have to withstand these periods where storm clouds come up and challenge us.

Because these difficult periods are inevitable. More important, they’re absolutely necessary. It’s the challenging times that provide us the opportunity to let go of our stuff.

We just need to be patient.



Let go.

Over and over and over…

Until the clouds pass…

And we can enjoy the bright, blue, beautiful skies again.