“I want it, and I want it now!”
I often hear this line quoted at meetings of Narcotics Anonymous. Addicts will share of their frustration over their own impatience. Often, the one sharing about such frustration, will point to it as a symptom of the disease of addiction. I’d like to share a different perspective.
Impatience is NOT a symptom of the disease of addiction. If it were, everyone would be an addict. Ok, maybe not The Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa, but they would be two of the very rare exceptions.
Don’t believe me? Just look around at the next traffic jam you are in. Observe people as they grow frustrated. Watch as they weave in and out of one lane of traffic after another. Sit back and enjoy as folks act out in ways they never would were it not for the protection of their car, with its locked doors and rolled-up windows.
I was in a doozy of a traffic jam last week in New York City. Just after a toll gate, an overturned tractor trailer had traffic reduced down to a single lane. There were close to ten toll booths, which meant all the traffic from those lanes were jockeying for position, funneling down to a single lane of traffic.
I was driving, and giving a ride to a business associate from Denver. We both talked about how thankful we were to not have traffic like this back home.
My passenger thanked me several times for driving, commenting on how frayed he would have been trying to maneuver the traffic. I, on the other hand, was able to take it in stride. There was a part of me that felt entertained by the stunts some were pulling in an effort to somehow trick the system and get ahead faster.
Now, unless all those folks were addicts, a statistical improbability, the “I want what I want, and I want it now” attitude affects us all. I had a gathering of hundreds of random drivers proving my point for me!
The other comment my business associate made several times was with regard to my calm spirit in the midst of that traffic jam. He was amazed that I seemed nonplussed by the delay. It was New York, so as you would imagine, horns were blaring continuously. I did honk mine once, but just a tap, with a smile as I motioned someone to pull forward a few inches.
Each time he commented on my patience, I quietly replied that there had once been a time that I’d have been freaked out by the experience. A time when wanting what I wanted, to be to our destination, would have had me all wrapped up in my emotions. There was a time when I’d have been freaking out.
The attitude of wanting what I want RIGHT NOW, is not unique to addicts, but the way we respond to that attitude might be. Looking back, what I was exhibiting during that traffic jam was serenity. Since first coming to the rooms of NA, I have prayed the Serenity Prayer hundreds of times. Perhaps that traffic jam was an example of that prayer finally working in my life.
Could it be that old stubborn Kent, who though everything had one best and superior way of being done, Kent’s way, is mellowing a bit? Could it be that I’m learning that the only thing I can really control is my response and attitude toward life’s events? Have I grown more serene, finding greater peace with the world around me?
While I still grow frustrated at times, those times are fewer and further between. It’s nothing special about me. I’m no spiritual rock star by any means. Not at all unique. No, I am just learning to do what so many addicts before me have done. I’m learning to apply spiritual principles to all areas of my life.
I am a realist. I know that I’ll never be perfect in my attempts to live a spiritual life. I’ll have gaps in my serenity. I’ll act out because I’m not getting what I want when I want it. The good news is that I’m working on myself. Just like every addict working the program of NA, I’m experiencing little changes in life.
Most importantly, I can face those times of waiting, if not getting what I want, without feeling the need to escape. No need to try and fix the situation with drugs.
So, I will continue to wait. I’ll surrender to the fact that I can not control things going on around me. I’ll even practice gratitude for the fact that I don’t have to be in control. I’ll find serenity in life, and do my best to…
Have a remarkable day!