“All good things arrive unto them that wait–and don’t die in the meantime.”
– Mark Twain in letter to Orion and Jane Clemens, 1889
I wish I had learned things earlier in life that required patience. As a kid I looked for the quick fix. Instant gratification. Not just as a child, but till I was like 27. Or 29. I lived as Veruca Salt. Maybe 36.
“I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
Don’t care how
I want it now
Don’t care how
I want it now”
Some how I survived. I think it is miraculous. Really. Now, a few years later, I have learned the lessons of gardening. That things take time. And care. Are often fraught with failure and messiness. I am sure part of that is age. Part, because I have actually done more gardening. Either way, I wish I had more patience when I was younger. Or just last week when….
I brought that to my students. It was a gift I could share with them, just as I did the world of language and the magical spaces of literature. As a teacher, I have learned that progress is good. I have learned it is easy to miss the progress we make because are are busy looking for the next bit of progress. And then the next. And the next.
The process of progress is a better story than the final score on a quiz or essay. Within the story of progress there are people, places, moments of wonder and disbelief. A good reading of that story is a far more informative description of “what one is knowing” than what one knows. The evaluation is the end of the story. No, it is just another beginning. And these stories take some time to tell, and to hear, to see and to appreciate. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I can’t fix that story. But I can assure you, the only thing we have is this time.
Gardening is a cycle of time. Seasonal. Annual. It moves between time and through it. Each unique and each endless; each tied closely to the last. The great circle of life.
These days I work with faculty. I see them hurried to figure things out. To fix things they believe are broken. To do things they feel a need to do. All too often they are nervous. Worried. Technology is fast like a new toaster oven. If it comes from a computer, it should be efficient and correct. There seems to be a belief that whatever needs to happen, can happen fast. I tell them a different story.
I often tell them I can fix it for you now, or we can learn it together over some amount of time. I remind them that me doing it for them will only put them in the same position next time it happens. I tell them that these digital tools are very complex and that the art of teaching is far more complex. It takes time. I remind them that it is ok to let students know they are learning it too.
I appreciate the need to do things “right” or “on time.” I know faculty want to be seen as knowledgeable and capable. I do too. And the class starts next week. Or We just changed the LMS over the summer and I need to learn the new one, fast! I don’t have time to learn it! I don’t have time! Yes, I know that story.
Part of the circle of life is not knowing. Part of failure is success.
There is little in this small patch of dirt worth getting anxious about. Turn the soil. Give things space. Water the sprouts carefully. Prune when necessary. Let insects in, but pay attention. Share what is grown.
So I suppose I wish I had known that I could just breathe (like my yoga teachers always say) and open my eyes and move forward. Without anxiety. Without so much stress. Without hoping it will be fixed instantly. I have more time! I have more time! I have time!
“Yes” you are saying. Hal Ashby. I know right. Did you know that there is a movie coming out titled Hal. Here is the trailer.