Long before actor David Carradine discovered the thrills and chills of autoerotic asphyxiation which led to his untimely death in a hotel closet in Bangkok a few years ago, he starred in the television series called ‘Kung Fu’. In it played Kwai Chang Caine, an orphaned half American half Chinese raised by monks, who was forced to flee China after killing the a member of the Emperors family who had killed his master teacher. Each week as Caine travels through the old west looking for his brother he encountered individuals and situations in which his Zen-like training as a monk and skills as a Kung-fu master come in very handy in settling disputes and righting wrong.
What a great show! I used to love Kung Fu and looked forward to it weekly. What I enjoyed most were all the flashback sequences in which Caine recalls the days of his youth, specifically the time he spent with his monk master and key lessons he was taught. It isn’t often that a show can offer it’s audience insight and “words to live by” as ‘Kung Fu’ did, a quality missing from most television shows today, but that was 40 years ago and times have certainly changed.
Central to many of Caine’s life lessons is the virtue of patience. Whenever he questioned the master about a particular method or gets impatient with the time or steps involved in achieving a particular result, he questions “But master, why–“ and the master would cu him off with a wave of his hand and reply with the now well known phrase, “patience, young grasshopper,” which is what the master always called his young student.
A typical lesson would go something like this:
Master: “I have three treasures which I hold and keep. The first is mercy, for from mercy comes courage. The second is frugality, from which comes generosity to others. The third is humility, for from it comes leadership.” —
Caine: “Strange treasures. How shall I hold them and keep them? Memory?”
Master: “No, Grasshopper, not in memory, but in your deeds.”
Caine: “But Master how can I—” (cut off by the master)
Master: “Patience Grasshopper, In time you will learn…”
And Caine did learn and eventually be a monk went off on his own. Hopefully some viewers came away from the show having learned something as well. If we could simply have learned some degree of patience or its importance, then the time spent in front of our TV sets was well worth it.
Unfortunately in our fast paced, highly technological society, patience is a virtue seldom seen. Everyone is in a hurry, rushing around like ants to get where they’re going, so they can carry of business. After all, they have taken the time to plan and arrange things with the greatest of care, God forbid anyone or anything get in the way of their mission, or they’ll have hell to pay!
However, the unexpected or unforeseen has a way of ruining the best laid plans, and that where patience comes into play. We all have our share of troubles and trials, whether it be physical pain or mental weariness, disappointment or annoyance. These are unavoidable situations we all have to contend with. We would all like to be free of these situations, but that will never happen Thy are just part of our life, part of the trip. So like my wife is fond of saying “Deal with it!”
And just how do we deal with it? By practicing patience, that’s how. Patience can help you bear your cross or crosses more easily. It is the key to peacefulness in trying times of trouble or annoyance. Okay so your stuck in traffic you hadn’t counted on or can’t find a parking space, or the doctor is behind schedule and you’ve been waiting over an hour and are getting upset or even angry. If the receptionist apologizes one more time and asks you to be patient you’re sure you’re going to explode! Oh well, deal with it! Come on, nothing should surprise disappoint or annoy you anymore. Shit happens!
In times like these, you are capable of becoming your own worse enemy. Your negative reaction isn’t going to change anything. Becoming upset, angry or annoyed isn’t going to make the traffic move any quicker or cause the doctor to suddenly catch up. You know damn well that your anxiety will only serve to cause you even more stress. Throwing a tizzy-fit will change nothing. You will only succeed in making a bad situation worse.
We’ve got to remember that “it’s not all about us.” The world doesn’t evolve around us. We are in control of ourselves, we choose how we will deal with situations. God has given us all the ability to willingly suppress our feelings of annoyance, anger, or irrationality and be more patient with ourselves and other. It’s all about making the right choices. We all have our crosses to bear, so bear them well, just as Christ bore His, without contempt or complaint. He simply dealt wit it, Can you?