An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of November 3, 2008
Mostly written in Yokdzonot and issued from a ciber in Pisté,
Yucatán, MÉXICO

DOES NATURE TEACH PATIENCE?

Last Monday morning I arrived in Pisté at 9 AM for my weekly ciber connection, but my usual ciber wasn't open. "Gone to Valladolid to do her banking," the señora in the adjoining eatery told me. Bankless Pisté, sitting beside Chichén Itzá, one of the world's archeological wonders, hosts at least seven tourist-favoring cibers, but last Monday all were closed. For the next three hours I drifted between them until finally one opened and you got your Newsletter.

During my roaming from locked door to locked door I thought a lot about patience. Is it really a virtue? If I let myself, I can get real impatient, so patience is something I've had to learn to keep from fretting myself into a stew.

When a question like "Is patience a virtue?" dawns on me, I welcome it, because it offers a chance to practice the process of seeking guidance in Nature. Nature offers the soundest advice on everything, so it's important to keep in practice ferreting out that advice, and interpreting it.

My first thought was that, no, Nature shows little patience. Life on Earth arose as soon as the planet cooled enough to sustain it. Global warming seems to be destroying things much faster than anyone had predicted. When a system's ecology drifts out of whack, things go extinct and there's no second chance. When you think about Earth's enormous diversity of life it seems to have exploded into existence, and where's "patience" in that?

As I digested that, a contrary thought came out of nowhere: Nature, having spent the first 3.6 billion years of life on Earth (out of ±4.6 in all) just to come up with the first photosynthesizing algae, is like the old-time clockmakers I've run into back in Germany's Black Forest region who meticulously, obsessively or maybe passionately worked very long hours, nearly all their waking hours, to make their clocks, which in so many ways were complex like Nature is complex, with all its cycles. That's patience. So, Nature IS patient in that way.

There must be at least two kinds of patience: The type needed to deal with closed ciber doors, and the clockmaker kind. The first one seems strictly confined to the interiors of human heads but the clockmaker kind is clearly eternal, the whole Universe in all its perfection having been created with it.

Therefore, here's what Nature says to me: If you want to be impatient about something as trivial as closed cibers, go ahead. You'll make yourself miserable but your whole situation and attitude is irrelevant to the rest of the Universe. However, if you want to please yourself by living in harmony with the flow of the Universe, be like a clockmaker -- not rushed, but working at what you're passionate about, steadily, meticulously, dedicatedly.

Somehow getting that clear in my mind for the first time was liberating. What began as vexation over the internet's inaccessibility now morphed into time I had to unhurriedly take account of what was all around me: And, how blue the sky! How delightful the hot breeze blowing through town, the odors of hot tortillas, frying onions and sizzling chili sauce drifting down the street, and look at those Black Vultures circling high over town and the old man clanging his little tin bell selling fruit-flavored ices from his white pushcart, and how lovely the habitual good nature of everyone I meet, how alive they all are, me too, right now here in Pisté, closed cibers or not... Facebook Icon.