As I walked up to the apartment yesterday, I notice an egret on the edge of the pond. It was in an awkward looking pose. It held that pose for almost a minute, then moved ever so slightly, then in a lightening fast movement, it’s beak went in and out the water, and returning to its standard walking position with a small fish (I think) that it then swallowed. In Stephen Farmer’s Animal Spirit Guides (a book with over 200 animals, each with 3 sections, the first being messages of brought by witnessing, in person or in meditation, the animal, 2nd when to call on its energies, and 3rd what it means if that animal is one of your power animals), Egret’s 1st listed message is “Patience, patience, patience! You’ll soon get your reward.” This experience of viewing the egret in action helped me to understand this message fully. This was patience and perseverance in action.
We can all learn from the egret. Sometimes, one must wait for a time, sometimes in a funny looking/feeling pose, before momentary action produces a sought after reward. Sometimes consistent effort must be applied for sometime before reward is gained. So, why do we all seem to expect reward to be instantaneous? We say we don’t, yet our actions speak otherwise. Why do we give up when only a short period of effort does not produce?
Most “experts” will say this action/inaction is due to our social programming to seek instant gratification. This rings true when taking TV, video games, fast food, microwaves, the internet, cell phones, cell phones with internet, pornography, cigarettes, and several other modern “conveniences” into account. Yet, are we robots? Are we no better than our phones which have been programmed too? We are thinking, breathing, free will endowed human beings, who have will power and virtues that can overcome any situation, and programming. We need to take charge of our personal power, and ACT LIKE IT. It is time to learn from the egret and remember what patience, conscious effort, and perseverance, truly are.
Maybe its time to turn the TV off for a few months, or at least get rid of cable. Maybe (not maybe, please do) its time to get rid of your microwave and remember that until 30 years ago, we used ovens and stoves to cook and reheat our food. Maybe its time to get off Facebook, and make a phone call if you want to convey a message or see how someone is doing. Better yet, spend time together. Remember real human interaction? It was proven years and years ago to be quite stimulating and necessary for proper development and mental/emotional well-being. There are plenty of ways to get off the instant gratification train, yet they will all take CONSCIOUS EFFORT, WILL POWER and PATIENCE, and in turn, will be a great practice in cultivating a greater amount of those 3 things.
Best of all possible results, with consistent application and willingness to make changes, your life will be more satisfying. Funny thing about instant gratification, it isn’t actually gratifying. It is like scratching an itch that won’t go away. Doing things that take effort and patience create lasting and satisfying results that leave one with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Which is more inspiring of these? a) a person who just gets handed or stumbles upon a millions dollars, or b) the person that lives life, pays dues, shows courage and patience, and through intelligent effort achieves great abundance? Exactly. The later feels more real and relatable as well. I’m not saying you have to sweat in coal mine, or toil away 60-80 hours a week. (Like my grandpa always said, work smart, not hard) I’m just saying that some part of it is going to take conscious effort, passion, persistence, patiences, compassion, love, and maybe even holding an awkward pose.
If you were handed $100 million tomorrow and told that to enjoy any of that for yourself, you had to help the world in every way you can, helping the world is going to take serious effort. Sticking with it till results come about, will take serious patience. You may not even see the results in your life time, or immediate environment, so its going to take some FAITH too. The money is the easy part, changing yourself and changing the world is where the real sweat comes in, where you truly prove your metal. Even if you had to earn the $100 million through some form of work/business, it would still be the easy part. This world/society is in need of some serious change/healing/growth/revamping/clean-up, and so are most of us. And its not going to happen over night, or with one beach clean up Saturday. This going to take a great deal of effort, and TIME, and the patience to wait while things progress and change.
Instant gratification, through its many outlets, is a big factor in what’s destroying the health and well being of individuals and the Earth alike. Instant gratification will get us no where, just like your microwave dinner has been zapped of all the nutritional value by radiation, or watching Dr. Phil isn’t going to help your social anxiety. Change and healing start within, and through conscious effort, patience, and persistence. Am I starting to sound like a broken record? I sure hope so, its called driving a point home. Whether a human or the planet, the best, most needed, lasting healing, change, and growth will come through those 3 factors. Betterment requires daily effort, standards that are adhered to, and constant drive. It will take the knowledge that it will not happen overnight, or that the desired amount of progress may not be seen for months, or years. It will take persistence and faith to keep going when attempts fail, recession happens, ego wins out for a moment, or things seem to be at a stand still. Cast aside judgement, for it will only lead to suffering. Yet, as the egret showed me, patience and conscious, continuous effort do pay off in full in a very satisfying way.
So, take the egret’s lesson, and start to apply it to your life. Walk or bike to the store. Send a card when you’re thinking of someone. Meditate daily to relieve anxiety instead of popping a pill you really don’t need. THROW AWAY YOUR MICROWAVE. In fact, cut the cord off that sucker. Plant rose bushes this spring so you have flowers to stop and smell in the future. Watch a sunset, or a sunrise. Look for ways to practice patience and conscious effort in all areas of life, and make all of life’s rewards taste, smell, appear, sound, and feel that much more sweet and satisfying. Your soul, and the world will thank you. Little by little the world will become a better place by the genuine energy we are all putting into our lives by what we do and experience, and through the deep understanding we will all achieve, and pass on to future generations about what it truly takes to create change and produce what truly matters within ourselves and on this planet.
Like the egret, and life on many occasions has shown me, patience and persistence are virtues that are beyond any value measure, and the conscious effort and will power it takes to cultivate and truly understand them makes gold look like nothing more than a cute, shiny metal.
A closing thought:
Imagine and contemplate – how much less trash there would be if we got rid of all fast food, fast casual, and to-go style eatery? If there were no “disposable” eateries, containers, and such? or if we stopped producing and buying single serving snacks, candies, and rinks sold at convenience stores? Or got rid of the convenience stores too? Was it really “convenient” with all the work its going to take to get rid of that trash when we finally decide to tackle that mountainous chore? Next time you take your trash out, imagine what could be avoided with some bulk buys, reusable containers, and other conscious efforts?