Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Back to the seven virtues today. I'll try a sin tomorrow. If I have the energy.

According to wikki, restraint is:

Restraint may refer to:

* Physical restraint, the practice of rendering people helpless or keeping them in captivity by means such as handcuffs, ropes, straps, etc.
o Medical restraint, a subset of general physical restraint used for medical purposes
* Restraint (2008 film), an Australian thriller directed by David Deenan
* Safety harness
* The use of any type of brake etc. to slow down or stop any moving machine or vehicle

Huh. Perhaps I will be addressing sin today after all. But seriously. To me, restraint means putting the brakes on or holding back from something as opposed to being tied up and restrained. That's bondage, and a very different post. Very different indeed. (For the record, I'm saving Lust for the last post in this series. I may set aside a whole day to write.)

Temperance is always a delightful word. It brings to mind that most intemperate advocate of temperance, Carrie Nation.

Carrie opposed alcohol so vehemently that she was known to attack saloons and bars with her hatchet. Somehow, temperance to me has always meant restraint, moderation, refraining from over-indulgence, that kind of thing.

So I can either discuss restraint/temperance a la Carrie Nation and handcuffs, or I can discuss what might be a more appropriate variation, something along the lines of patience and self-control.

As an alcoholic, even of the recovering variety, I don't have a lot of experience or expertise with that whole self-control thing. If I did, I probably would not have ended up at all those 12-step meetings. Anything worth doing is worth over-doing, I say. Yeah. So much for self-control.

But patience is something else, some how. I am more patient now than I was a few years ago, and much more patient than I was as a young woman. I got impatient today at work when the guy I was working with did not read my mind and respond immediately and in an appropriate fashion. The fact that I was not communicating clearly had nothing to do with the misunderstanding, I am sure. Ahem.

So we were putting in these windows. And it was cold. Like between 30 and 32 degrees Farenheit. And it was windy. Gusty, even. The wind chill had to be down into the teens, and both John and I were chilled. He had it worse than me, though. I was inside the new sun porch, which although unheated, is still sheltered from the wind. Poor John was perched outside on a New England staging rig - namely a plank laid between two stepladders. Yeah. Poor guy was frozen before we got started. The wind was howling, our noses were running, I was trying to grip the window from the inside with not much to grab and John was trying to hold it in the opening from the outside, but every gust of wind tried to flop the thing out into the yard on top of him. Remember that these windows are five feet tall, nearly four feet wide and they weigh a ton. I wrenched my back yesterday when we were carrying them from the driveway to the sun porch. So John's on the staging, battling with these windows and the wind. I'm inside fiddling with shims and levels and making sure the thing is centered in the rough opening. At one point, he bent down to pick up his level and the window started to tip out from the top. I yelled and he jumped and all was saved, but I was scared and angry all at once. "Pay attention!" I barked. Poor guy. Out there freezing his nuts off in a gale and I'm yelling for him to pay attention. "Patience, patience" he intoned with relative calm from the other side of the plate glass. "I've got it."

I had to take a few breaths. Yes, he had it. Yes, he has a lot more experience with this than I do. Yes, I asked him to take the lead and he was, even if I sometimes seem to want to take it back. Patience. It is almost like trust. Trust that the world does not have to operate on my schedule. Trust that things will come out OK without my supervision. Have patience and let things evolve in their own time.

The virtues are tricky things, requiring work and effort and practice. I suppose the sins require those things as well, but somehow it does not seem like quite so much work is required to master them.

I suppose the best way to learn patience is to get through lots of situations that teach patience, and frankly, that does not sound like a lot of fun. I pray that I may put aside my own wants and desires and expectations and allow things to happen naturally. That is the essence of patience as far as I can tell.

Tomorrow we try discussing one of the seven deadly sins. In the meantime, we practice restraint and temperance.


Queenie said...

Here's my definition of patience:
1. Trying to get a two-year old's shoes on.
2. Showing RESTRAINT while listening to the outrageous lie your teenager is telling you about why he/she is four hours late and looking a bit disheveled.
3. Waiting for bread to rise and smelling that yummy yeast smell.
4. Waiting for the hot water to get hot.
5. Waiting for the cold water to get cold.
6. Waiting for the aspirin/cold medicine/wine to kick in.

My mom had a cast iron trivet (remember those?? on her kitchen wall while I was growing up. It said: Patience is a virtue, catch it if you can, it is seldom found in woman, but never found in man.

Stickthulhu said...

Hey, I resemble that last remark!

Patience requires tremendous effort, especially when you delegate responsibility. You need to let people make their mistakes, find their way, and exercise some independence.

Restraint as well. I've been in my job for 18 months and I still have to catch myself before I get too far "into the weeds" on something. I always enjoyed getting my hands dirty, but unfortunately that is not my job right now.

Keeping the "big picture" can be so boring sometimes.

Robin said...

Relinquishing control can be one of the hardest things there is.

A lot of parenting is like that too.

Umm, what does it mean that my word verification word is "ruiners". I hope it's not a message of some kind ;-).