Learning Patience and Persistence From Nature

One of the reasons I love to spend time outdoors is that there is so much to learn from nature. We all have impatient moments, where we don’t want to wait another second. Patience and persistence are valuable traits, and they are exhibited all around us in the wild.

The persistent woodpecker hammers away at a dead tree to make a nest. The patient heron stands stock-still in the water, waiting for a fish to swim within reach. Even water shows both patience and persistence, slowly shaping rocks a drip at a time.

Taughannock Falls, NY
Photo by Kit Dunsmore
Water cutting its way through rock (Taughannock Falls, NY; photo by Kit Dunsmore)

Recently, I’ve been rather frustrated with life. While I usually find summer soporific, this year seems worse than usual. I’ve been sick, spending too many sunny days in bed. I’m finding it hard to do anything, even write.

In an effort to be productive, I’ve been trying to finish the paperwork for our new car. So far, it has felt endless. All the back-and-forth with the bank for the loan is now a triangle that includes the county courthouse as I try to finish the registration process. I’ve been in twice for plates, and both times, the paperwork from the bank wasn’t right. I felt like screaming and wound up crying.

Given all this, it’s no surprise that I was struck by this quote:

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

Hal Borland

All around me, I see trees and grass. The trees grow so slowly, it’s hard to see them change. Meanwhile the grass goes dormant when it doesn’t get enough water, and rebounds after I step on it.

The trees and grass remind me that the processes of life happen slowly. Change will come, but it may take a lot of consistent effort before it’s evident. When we hit a set back (the loan paperwork isn’t right? Again?!?), we need to show resilience, get back up, and keep on towards our goal.

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. Hal Borland

I want to be instantly healthy. I want my novel to be finished. I want plates on the new car now. But waiting is part of these processes. I might as well be patient.

I’ve written the credit union again and am waiting to hear what’s next. While I wait, I can step outside, admire the trees, and walk through the grass. I remind myself to take a deep breath. Nature will steady me while I wait for things to change, if I let it.

Do you wish you were more patient? More persistent? What has nature taught you? What frustrates you and makes it hard to breathe?

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