28: Patient and thorough.

- May 21, 2017 -

Lately, I’ve found myself adopting something of a mantra. It contains just two words: patient and thorough.

I don’t often narrow things down in this way, but I’m happy when I can because the simplicity of a mantra can be incredibly helpful. It is, after all, just a few short words: there are no lengthy quotations to memorize or bullet-point lists of steps to follow, making it much easier for me to commit to my intention on a day-to-day level.

For me, this particular mantra acts as a kind of metronome, a fallback for whenever I start to veer away from the task at hand. I repeat it to myself whenever I’m struggling to focus or make a decision: patient and thorough, patient and thorough, patient and thorough..

In many ways, it’s a curious combination of words, as ‘patient’ doesn’t really seem as though it would naturally be paired with ‘thorough.’ Being thorough often implies a sort of frenzied productivity — which, of course, couldn’t be further from the deliberate calm of someone who is patient.

.. And yet, despite their unlikely coupling, I’ve found that these two words fit together rather nicely. I’m hesitant to say that it’s in spite of their differences, though, because, if anything, it seems to me that it might be just the opposite: that it’s because of their differences.

You see, I don’t know that I would want only to be patient, as that, to me, doesn’t leave much room for the type of structure and intensity with which I prefer to pursue the things I’m passionate about. And, at the same time, I also wouldn’t want only to be thorough, as that sounds too much like relentless, uninspired toil.

Taken together, though, these two words provide the necessary balance for a constructive middle ground. To be patient and thorough suggests a productive stillness, an approach that is thorough yet, given the composed restraint of patience, remains free from the strongholds of perfectionism or excess.

And so, this is the position from which I now approach my days: striving, whenever possible, to be simultaneously patient and thorough. Patient and thorough in my work, patient and thorough in my relationships with others, and, above all, patient and thorough with myself.

(That last one, I think, is the most difficult, but maybe it’s also the most important.)


Waving from my desk,
– J


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