Long, long ago when I was a mature student at St. Gregory’s, I took a six-week intensive “Math for Critical thinking” course with Bob Yarbrough. His very first assignment asked us to write an essay on what we thought math was and what its role was in society today. In my essay, I challenged him to show me how math was relevant for our everyday lives for non-math people. With much patience, and teaching skills he helped me pass the course with a ‘B’. At the end of the course, his final assignment redirected us to our first essay and he asked us to reflect on it and write how our opinion may have changed or may not have changed after completing the class. Needless to say, my opinion had changed and I could see how math, algebra included, did play a role in our lives every single day. We use it when we go shopping, when we are felling a tree, when deer hunting, when we are planning our household budgets or projects, and when we create art. We cannot escape the math skills we learned when we were young.
And so, it is with “Patience”!
When we were young, our parents, grandparents, teachers and elders would say things such as:
• “Patience is a Virtue.”
• “Just wait, good things come to those who wait.”
• “It will be ready soon enough and then you can taste it.”
• “Don’t be wishing away your years; you’ll be eighteen soon enough.”
• “You’re trying my patience.”
Sometimes we learned, such as when we stopped getting up at 5 a.m. to open our Christmas presents. As we became adults, we learned to be patient and wait in line, wait till payday, wait for a letter, wait for somebody to get off the phone so we could use it, wait until the traffic light had turned green or for the cars to pass so that we could cross the road safely. We also used our patience to find alternative things to do around the house until our grounding expired.
And then, along came the age of instant gratification and easy credit and ‘patience’ suffered. We no longer had to wait till we had enough money saved before we bought things for ourselves and our children or friends. Instant gratification can be good, but it can also be very dangerous, self-centered, self-destructive, and definitely not as rewarding as self-control and patience.
As an abstract artist, I have sometimes been very impatient and relied on my feelings to shape and design the art that I created. However, when I have experimented with new and different mediums I reached down within and backwards to retrieve the patience that was needed to learn the intricacies of each medium; whether it be encaustics, etching on copper or plastic plates, or ink-tense paints and pencils. This has allowed me to build new skills; and that boosts my self-esteem and makes me feel good about the art pieces that I chose to create and my progress as an artist.
This year has been a struggle for me and many others as we have dealt with the COVID virus, lockdowns, cancelled art shows, home-schooling, working from home, struggling economy, and an election that has yet to be finalized. We’ve all reached down within and brought back ‘Patience’ to help us to try and survive current times even though we probably all want to scream these phrases out loud:
• “I WANT THIS TO BE OVER NOW!”
•” I WANT MY NORMAL LIFE BACK!”
•” I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SOCIALIZE FREELY; WITHOUT A MASK.”
• “I WANT TO BE ABLE TO VISIT WITH MY FAMILY WITHOUT THE FEAR OF GIVING THEM COVID.”
Unfortunately, that isn’t quite possible yet. The virus is rampant and the vaccines aren’t yet approved or ready for distribution, but things are looking promising.
Therefore, I wait until another day and I wait with my bag of survival skills that include Math, Patience and Hope, because Hope is a helper for Patience.
Let Us All wait Together with Hope and Patience.
Douglas G Gordon is an artist who lives in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He says that he grew up in Scotland and Canada but he admits that men never really grow up and he says that he still finds fun in being childish at times. Douglas is married to Holly Gordon and is a parent to two well-behaved dogs and six noisy chickens. He loves to travel and meet people; especially artists and writers. You can find him on Facebook and Instagram.