Emperor’s Log #20 ‘Tis the Season…for Patience

It is the time of year when friends and family gather around to celebrate the holidays. It is a time for joy. For some, it is also a time of stress. Last minute shopping, decorating, and cooking can take its toll. And then, there is that one family member (or maybe more) who is the proverbial thorn in the side. Or there is the co-worker at the Christmas party that draws the ire of all.

What can we do about the ones that get underneath our skins and are content to stay there throughout the holiday season? We can look to these words from Marcus Aurelius and use them to our advantage:

Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.

Meditations 5.33

Peace on earth or at least in the family gathering starts with us. We have our own standards to maintain. We have the discipline that has guided us through the years and up to this point. Moments like these is what we have been preparing for. The only ball we should be dropping is the red one to ring in the New Year. We do this by being strict with ourselves. We don’t get goaded into the opposing ideologies that separates loved ones and adds tension to the holiday meal. We hold the line as the sovereign rulers of our minds and bodies.

What do we not do? We don’t hold others to the incredibly high standards we have set for ourselves. No, for them we must be tolerant. When it comes to a “good” life, we can lead by example rather than try to force others into compliance. This is the high road we must seek and stay on.

And yet, these words are easier to write than to do. Too many times, I have cast judgment on others. Too many times when my heart should have been full of peace, love, and happiness, it had been resentful, bitter, and arrogant. It has been those times when the foundations of all my progress had crumbled. I didn’t hold the line. Instead, I only expected others to hold it.

The standards I have set for myself are my standards and mine alone. We all have our own paths to follow. Why should I expect others to follow mine?

I am convinced that my way is the right way. It is only out of love that I would hope others adopt my way of thinking. Yet, if I preach love but don’t show love, then love is truly not in my heart. If my words do not harmonize with my actions, then I am nothing more than a hypocrite. Therefore, I must hold to the words I preach. Love, compassion, and understanding. Tolerance with others; strict with myself.

Convince them if you can. And if not, remember: the capacity for patience was given to us for a reason.

Meditations 9.11

Patience. If differences arise during these festive gatherings, a healthy debate should be acceptable. But if it gets heated, we should remember our training and the purpose of the occasion in which we are gathered. Convince them if you can. Otherwise, be patient. Patience is a form of love we should express freely and abundantly.

May you have peace this holiday season. May it be merry and bright.

Useful Pain

Courage 12/5/2019

Right now there is pain. Physically, you may not be able to fill it, but it resides deep within you. What is this pain that you cannot feel?

There is a place you imagine yourself occupying. It is a “one day in the future” place, and today is not that day. You want it with all your heart. It hurts. This is the pain of not being where you belong. The waiting is killing you. What can you do but wait?

There is another type of pain. It pierces the mind, body, and soul. Like the first pain it is self-inflicted. It is the pain of breaking yourself down. But this is okay, because you are resilient. You tear yourself down. You heal. You grow stronger. You repeat the process with greater and greater force. You become tougher. In the beginning, this pain sucks. But as you grow tougher, you get used to it. You endure.

When it comes to the first pain of patience, you must endure as well. What you must not do is get used to the pain. You cannot allow yourself to become used to it. You have to let it hurt so that you do not become complacent and decide to live with it. Embrace it. Bear your cross and endure.

You know, the path to being tough isn’t easy either. But you might as well embrace this pain too. Get used to it. There is no becoming too tough. Continue to refine your complete being by challenging yourself daily. There is no easy path on this journey. So in this, you must also bear your cross and endure.

We all have our burdens to carry. Take it all in, throw your shoulders back, and keep your head up high. Enjoy the process and get where you need to go. All this patience and toughness will come in handy. Bear the pain now, and one day these two pains will bear you through your most difficult trials.

Be patient and tough; one day this pain will be useful to you.-Ovid