We were running out of eggs and milk (and a few other things) so I decided to make a trip to Costco. Also, I had to pick up some medication. I call it a “trip” because I find the whole process quite overwhelming, even on a good day.
Recovering from a serious illness like cancer and it’s treatment takes time. Everything is slowed down and I have to be wary of running into some unexpected physical problems. I have to be ready for anything.
I learned something about myself today as I ventured out. Over the last few months I have developed a very enhanced skill of patience. I noticed a lack of frustration and agitation as I moved through the motions of this Costco trip. What would normally make the average person impatient or annoyed, didn’t seem to bother me. I have never been much of an impatient type, but today I noticed a greater sense of calm and tolerance about me.
As I entered the parking lot, I didn’t mind that there were cars stopped, turning, moving slow, in front of me. I didn’t mind that I had to go to the far side of the lot to find a parking spot (I thought it wouldn’t be busy on a Tuesday morning – Ya, right!). I was “in the moment,” enjoying the “flow of life.”
When I arrived at the entrance of the store, there were a lot of people getting shopping carts, and getting in line for the “membership card” check. I didn’t mind having to wait my turn. At this point I noticed a lot of people (all ages, male/female) rushing. Almost cutting me off at times. I wondered if I was moving too slow? Well, I wasn’t about to pick up the pace, as I was doing the best I could.
As I moved deeper into the store, I was noticing how quickly some people were moving. I found myself asking them in my head, What’s the rush? Is life that hectic for you that you practically have to “run” through Costco with your super-sized cart? Almost running into people? I wondered if anyone has been knocked over before. Or hit with a cart. I immediately became more aware of the space I was occupying and tried to stay on the sidelines in order not to get hurt.
I enjoyed all the sights. All the new things. I picked up my needed items, and found myself browsing through isles I hadn’t been in for a long time. Seems like most people were practically running by and throwing things in their carts. A younger mom with a child practically threw a bag of frozen blueberries into her cart, barely stopping to let the door of the freezer close. Meanwhile, here I was, taking my time, looking at labels. Letting people go ahead of me.
When I got to the pharmacy, there was an older woman in line. I asked her if she was in the “Pick Up” your medication line. She only smiled at me. So I got closer and asked her again as I realized she didn’t hear me the first time. She apologized for not hearing me and said she was in line and moved forward a bit. I was not annoyed at all by her initial lack of response. Again, that sense of calm and patience was with me and I was surprised at the amount of understanding and compassion I had for her. I told her not to worry. I got in line behind her. As I picked up my medicine, I told the staff member I needed some info changed on my account (my phone number, etc.). She apologized and told me I had to go to the “Drop Off” line. I was completely okay with it and moved into another line.
I completed my shopping and got into another line to go through the checkout. A middle-aged woman cut in front of me, and smiled. She said, “I am just trying to get in line.” I smiled back and gestured to her to go ahead of me. I was thinking maybe she has someone waiting for her at home, or maybe she’s on a tight deadline. So once again, my patience grew.
As I was leaving the store to get back into my car, there was an older man coming up and one of us had to let the other go by first or we’d crash into each other. I decided to slow my pace, and let him go before me. I wondered what the proper etiquette is nowadays. Does a middle-aged woman (younger) let an older man go first? Or should the older man allow the woman to go first? Either way, I felt another surge of kindness and patience, and let the man go first.
I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation in the last few months. Does that have an influence on my patience and calmness? I wonder. Or is just because I have been away from the hectic “Rat Race” for so long?
When I Google the definition of “patience”, the following comes up: “Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” I’d say I totally agree with that definition, as I lived it today.
As I get older, as I get more experience in life, my ability to be patient is developing into something beyond what I ever imagined. They say patience is a virtue. So that’s a good thing, right? However, maybe patience is a day-to-day thing, and maybe I won’t have much of it left by tomorrow.
What is your patience level like? How do you feel waiting in lines and having people cut you off? What do you make of this trip to Costco?
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com