This post first ran April 6, 2019
Layli Long Soldier is an Oglala Lakota poet, writer, and artist. In an On Being interview with Long Soldier, she said, “Writing has shown me what happens with patience.”
Oh wow, I thought. That’s an understatement! I don’t consider myself a terribly patient person. I’m an activator, someone who wants things to happen now, someone who wants to see quick results from my efforts and receive speedy responses to my inquiries. I’m someone who would make my dreams come true tomorrow, if I could.
But a life in the arts has taught me patience, whether I like it or not:
Patience with myself as I learn the craft and business of writing
Patience with my ideas as they take their time to form
Patience with my stories as they slowly unfold
Patience with my characters when they refuse to cooperate
Patience with the publishing industry as I await responses
Patience with production timelines that don’t match my goals
Patience with my marketing efforts as they slowly take hold
Patience with people who criticize my work or want something more from me
Patience with the obligations and responsibilities that keep me from my art
Patience with the universe while I wait for those signs for how to move forward
But Long Soldier is right. Patience is a gift. It slows us down and teaches us tolerance. It evens our tempers and brings moments of tranquility. It shows us beauty and opens us to love. It gives us the strength to endure and the will to persevere. It connects us to our sense of purpose and to the needs of others. It allows us time for self-reflection and reminds our egos they don’t always come first. Patience makes our art better. And our art makes us more patient.
Though I’m sometimes a reluctant student, for all the things patience has taught me, I’m grateful. And for all the ways art makes me more patient, I’m appreciative. And to all the stories, ideas, connections, and dreams that have been patient with me, thank you, too.
May a little patience lead us all a long, long way.
By Teresa R. Funke
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