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I rolled the vacuum over the spot on the carpet. It didn’t go away

“That sucks,” I punned to myself, rolling the machine back over the spot.

I’ve always had problems with expectations, especially when it comes to machines, the tools developed to make our lives easier. I swear they don’t make life easier, they make life harder. We have to work harder to make them work better.

When I make a shopping list, I head to my computer and it takes 10 minutes to make a note to myself, a note that updates to the cell phone. Unfortunately, I often head to the store, then realize I left my phone at home. If I’d just  picked up a pen and paper, the note would be written in seconds, stuffed it into my wallet, ready to go. But no. Instead I waste my time trying to make my life easier to use by putting my to do list on my phone. I should have made a note to remember my cell phone.

The thing on the carpet was still there.

How many times have I given someone or something an extra chance, a chance to change? Too many. I give everything a second chance. I learned the adage years ago to try everything twice. I might like it the second time. If not, I’ll know exactly why.

Sure, I’ve gotten burned, taken advantage of, and abused for such generosity. I think of it as my Starfleet training infused with Anne Frank philosophy. Give everyone a chance to do good as there is good in everyone, no matter how evil. Draw a line in the sand, but reinforce it with cement. Leniency only goes so far, then stand your ground hovering over your laurels.

Gees, I hate cliches and platitudes.

I shove the vacuum forward and back with no luck. It’s time to stand my ground over this spot. I really don’t want to get on my knees. I don’t have time for this. I’m getting angrier by the second, pissed off at this damn spot

I have so little patience for people and things. In spite of my lack of patience, my whole life has been a lesson in patience.

I used to joke that by 30, with all of my life experiences, good and bad, I’d learned patience. Then I fell in love and got married. I learned more patience. Patience was my new best friend. Then we hit the road full-time in an RV. I learned that patience meant more than dealing with people. It meant dealing with weather, mechanical problems, and other uncooperative people on the road. After two years of non-stop travel, dealing with every challenge to the best of my ability. I was done learning patience. I’d learned patience. I’d completed my degree in patience.

Then we settled for a short time in the southeastern United States to earn an advanced degree in patience, dealing with people who think that “don’t know about that” is the answer to everything whether or not they have the answer. All questions must be answered on the second or third try while they scope you out and get a feel for who and what you are, and what you really want from them. “An answer!” would be my mental scream to no avail.

Then we moved to Israel.

Israelis, Hebrew, religious mythology, suicide bombers, terrorism, Iraq, screwed up US Presidents, politics, war, peace, negotiations, third-world mentality in a first-world country, I earned a PhD in patience. “I’m done! I’m baked! I got patience. Universe, can we move onto something new? I’m bored with patience. I’m ready for a new lesson.”

The universe laughed.

We moved back to the deep south of the United States, back to slow moving minds with their own rules and regulations about social life, honoring a practice filled with rituals of exclusion more than inclusion. We arrived in time for an unusually early hurricane season and did the whole alphabet, starting with B and ending with W. Trust me, K wasn’t much fun in the middle. Mother nature became our terrorist, destroying all recognizable landmarks and lifestyles by grinding and soaking everything to a pulp. “Hey, Universe! I got this patience gig! Really? I’m good on patience. Done. Really done. Well done. Burnt. Can I stop learning patience in this lifetime?”

No luck. Now in the Pacific Northwest, I’m back in the land of cooler temperatures, calmer minds, peaceful green walks, no terrorism, save for the occasional earthquake, flood, and daily traffic jams. This is a land of peace, where patience is a part of daily life. A different kind of patience. An enjoyable patience. People are easy here, few agendas, going with the flow, whatever happens happens, and they are all understanding, kind, patience in their own right.

You would think I would be more relaxed.

Cursing whatever stained my carpet, my knees hurt as I kneel down and run my hand along the carpet to find an edge to the yellow thing stuck to the carpet – and find nothing.

I look down at my hand, moving closer. Aging brings with it a new form of patience, the patience of the body slowing down, muscles tightening up, joints not cooperating fully, and eyes seeing less than they did even five years ago

What? I stop my sweeping hand over the spot and the spot is now on the back of my hand. As my eyes focus on this new level through trifocal glasses, I see that the spot I’ve been scrubbing off my carpet is sunlight.

I follow the glowing trail of light to a small hole in the curtain through which the pull cord weaves. I didn’t even know there was sunshine outside. It was foggy when I woke up and my head had been down in house-cleaning mode.

I turned my hand over. The sunlight danced in the palm of my hand. I rocked it back and forth, watching the light flicker around, imagining its warmth, radiance, a tiny spot of radiation tingling my skin.

How far did this light travel before it reached my hand? The sun is about 150km (93M miles) from me. Astronomers call this an astronomical unit, the distance light travels between the sun and planet earth, at a speed that brings the light here in eight and a half minutes, literally at the speed of light.

Little spot, what did you see as you traveled here? Did you see the stars? Is that why you sparkle in my hand? Did you bring some star dust with you to greet me? Did you meet any interesting creatures along the way? Do you have some fun stories to tell about your journey?

What does patience mean to particles of light that travel from their home to my hand in less than ten minutes? Do they have a different perspective on time passing? Do those ten minutes feel like a year, or the same as ten minutes feels to me as I sit on the floor holding sunlight in my hand?

I blink and my hand is just my hand again. The sun has shifted around the planet. The spot is now hiding under the chair.

My knees creak as I stand up and switch on the vacuum, but there is now a smile on my face. I’ve learned something new.

I’ve sucked sunshine today.