Jordan Green reflects on patience

by Jordan Green

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this line: “Patience, young grasshopper.”

I couldn’t tell you the first time I heard that phrase. I know it came from a TV series entitled “Kung Fu,” though I’ve never actually seen that show. Thus, I conclude that at some point in my life, someone said to me: “Patience, young grasshopper.”

I’d like to figure out who that person is and say, “Thank you.”

As a journalist, I’ve learned that nothing runs on my time – it runs on everyone else’s. After all, we journalists don’t control the news, we merely report it. It is a helpless feeling at times. Perhaps the most significant contributor to that sense of helplessness is that unflinching, never-failing, almost insurmountable juggernaut called “the deadline.” In short, many things don’t go the way we want them to.

I’ve waited hours and hours to receive essential pieces of information that either 1) never came or 2) came far too late. I’ve tried desperately to track down people to interview who seem like they’re just never by the phone. I’ve shown up to write stories but had no one to talk to due to the weather. The worst part is that some of those phone calls, meetings, and inquiries would have worked out just fine had the people come just before or after the time I choose. And don't get me started on the times when someone does something to my work that isn't good.

It’s frustrating. Very frustrating.

When your job is so dependent upon other people and other things – and when they don’t come through – you’re bound to lose something. If you’re in a business partnership, it could be money. If you’re in a marriage, it could be trust. But when you’re in journalism, it’s your patience.

I’ll admit to being a natural hothead; maybe it’s genetic. One year ago, if someone was really pushing my buttons, I’d explode. One year later – one more year to accumulate wisdom and grow as a person – it’s something I’m still working on. But something on which I’ve made significant progress.

With the new year upon us, I’ve been reflecting on the previous year to find areas where I need to improve. I’m not much on resolutions for the new year, but I will challenge myself to be more patient with people. And I challenge you to do the same, no matter how patient you already are.

Like I said, I used to get incredibly angry when people didn’t hold up their end of the deal or when something didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I think many of us do. But in my anger, I would fail to understand why. Why didn’t this person do what they said they would? Or, why didn’t that plan work?

As I’ve grown, I’ve come to learn that we humans can get so caught up in giving pity to ourselves and being angry about little things that we often forget to think about others. When I got mad that someone didn’t show up to an interview, I should have considered why they didn’t. Car trouble? Family issues? Weather? Even the most dependable people make mistakes or have things happen to them that they can't control.

Much like we journalists often feel helpless, it’s important for all of us to remember that other people feel that way, too. Everyone has circumstances, and to be understanding of that is to be patient.

A patient person, rather than saying something mean, just takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. A patient person, instead of giving up in the face of failure, decides to try again. A patient person, instead of acting based on his emotions, calms himself and does what’s best, no matter how tough it may be.

It can be tough not to give in to your emotions, but having this self-control is rewarding.

I’ll be perfectly honest: If I had given a piece of my mind to everyone I wanted to – and if I had said everything I wanted to say to all of the people I wanted to say something to – you wouldn't be reading this column today. I wouldn't have a job. And I certainly wouldn’t have any friends.

Having the restraint to be friendly even to those who have failed you is an incredible quality. To me, it feels better to keep those hateful words to myself than to let them fly. Some would call this censorship. But to this young grasshopper, it’s all about patience.