We live in a “full-moon” culture.
What this means is that, by-and-large, most people are focused on the next thing. We want to have full illumination of the answers and the clarity to get to where we’re going and harvest the results.
There is little tolerance for the shadows and mystery of the new moon: uncertainty, ambiguity, questions. We want instant gratification, and we increasingly want it faster and faster.
The Consequence of Faster Speeds
A 2012 study involving tens of millions of viewers who watched videos on the internet revealed that online viewers lose patience in as little as two seconds while waiting for the vide to start playing.
The study showed that users who were connected to the internet at faster speeds were less patient than those connected at slower speeds.
In other words: as the world speeds up, we become less patient.
At the time the study was published, Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, predicted that the consequences would extend beyond the digital world:
[D]igital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more resistant to delays of all sorts — and perhaps more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli. Because our experience of time is so important to our experience of life, it strikes me that these kinds of technology-induced changes in our perception of delays can have particularly broad consequences.
It’s been seven years since that study, and these predictions have manifested. As the world continues to get faster, humans are losing patience and civility.
Look around, and notice the rush to judgment and assumptions, the lack of curiosity, the pressure to deliver or achieve instant results. Technology was supposed to make things easier, but people are working harder and are more anxious than ever before.
Look inward, and notice where it shows up in your life.
Do you get frustrated when you don’t see the results you wanted in the (arbitrary) timeline you set for them? How do you react when you’re in traffic? What do you do when the phone rings too early or too late, or when people don’t act the way you expect them to act?
The Art of Patience
Patience is defined as
the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Patience is not about suppressing your anger or frustration or the desire to be somewhere else, but about truly being where you are and finding the gifts of that place.
This is not simply a mindset; it’s a state of physical being. If you’re trying to “control your temper,” you’re not being patient, you’re suppressing anger and resentment.
Trying to be somewhere other than where you are is not patient; it’s a fool’s errand.
The Moon Cycles
Back to the moon. The moon cycle has eight phases. These phases mirror the phases of our lives, of our work, our projects, and our relationships.
Sometimes we are in the shadows, looking within and planting seeds. Other times we are in the full harvest of illumination, clarity, and reaping the results of our planting.
Each phase in the cycle is necessary.
Living a high quality life is about honoring where you are without trying to rush to the next phase. This principle applies to all aspects of life: work, hobbies, projects, relationships, even conversations.
Life is about honoring these rhythms: times for questions and mystery, planting seeds of intention, cultivating, growing, illuminating, harvesting, receding, introspection.
Cultivate the patience to be where you are, and you will find your full-moon phase in due time.
Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished. — Lao Tzu