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The Miyagi Factor

Practicing patience in 2020

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Patience is a virtue, they say—or maybe just the opposite of madness. 

My brother lives in Connecticut, so we don’t see each other much. We do touch base every week, though, and in 2020, that looks pretty much like an exchange of evidence that we’re both still breathing. We celebrate the oxygen moving in and out of our lungs, chip away at one or two of the mysteries of middle-age life, and then we hang up to face our lives again. Our words during these talks trickle through a filter of understanding the way only siblings’ words can. We know each others’ shit, and we call it when we see it. 

Today, I told him that I’m still showing up and taking care of myself and doing my best to keep the ship afloat over here. All good things. Winning things. Each very notable during a global pandemic. But, I also admitted to him that I’m selfishly tired of the waiting. Waiting for the virus to quit running the show. For inspiration to make its next appearance in my life. For my husband to get home after working all day while I poorly feign personal assistant to my kids. For the kids to run back inside for masks after we’ve already pulled out of the garage to go somewhere. For winter to come and go already. For hugs and handshakes and standing a little closer again. For unadulterated time to write my book. For guidance on what to do next. How to plan anything. Basically for everything to quit feeling so damn heavy.

I’ve always believed that we’ll make it through this, even that we’ll be better for it when all is said and done. That belief has never waned. 

But I’m tired of waiting.

I’ve never been good at it, the waiting. My brother pointed out that my impatience is one of my greatest strengths and also one of my greatest weaknesses. Impatient people go out and get things done. Impatient people also go bonkers waiting for things to happen that they can’t go out and get done. Touché, 2020. 

My brother said to me then, “Don’t forget the Miyagi factor, Morgan.” I knew he was referencing the famous 80’s movie that we watched on a loop in our childhood. Wax on, wax off. Paint the fence. That Miyagi. But I wasn’t immediately clear on where he was going with the analogy. 

“Even if you think you’re ready for something to happen, you have to remember that whether you’re aware of it or not, there are skills you’re cultivating right now that you’ll need once that something finally comes to fruition. You won’t be ready without the wax on, wax off. This is training.”

After I got over my amusement of having been Miyagi-ed, I realized that my brother is absolutely right. Practicing patience is still an essential doing of sorts. It’s a training for what’s to come. While it might feel sedentary or pointless or impossibly hard, there is always something sacred and necessary in it. And even if we can’t see what that something is just yet, that’s okay. Still, we wait. Still, we train for what’s to come. 

I know you can’t polish a turd, and 2020 is that turd. Even with glitter, it would still just be poop covered in glitter, and I don’t even want to get into the mess that would be. Let’s not put our energy into pretending it could be anything different at this point. Instead, maybe we try to be okay with the excruciating wait for this fever to break, even if it isn’t our strong suit to do so. If we can just trust that we’re getting whatever it is we need in order to be better prepared for the life that awaits us on the other side of this, it’ll all be a little bit more bearable. 

We’ll make it through this. There’s never been a question in my mind about that. In the meantime, wax on, wax off, my friend. And don’t forget to breathe.

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