The Power of Patience

Jul 18, 2011
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If my perspective from a wheelchair has taught me anything, it has taught me to be patient. Patience is a trait that can either be inborn or learned; however, it is far more difficult to gain a keen understanding of what this looks like if it’s never been forced down your throat at a million miles an hour.

I initially learned about patience when I was first injured and stuck in the hospital while my classmates and friends continued on at swim practice and algebra class and driver’s ed lessons. From there, I continued to learn about patience when it came to reintroducing how to dress myself again and navigate through a kitchen. Having to rely on a wheelchair added time to everything that I had to do, and effort that I wasn’t so sure that I was will to spend. But what choice did I have?

After swallowing that giant patience pill I quickly learned that there was still yet another lesson to be prescribed. Now, not only did I have to be patient with my new self, but I was also learning that I had to be patient with others as well. I was becoming increasingly more accepting of my new body and its mode of transportation, but that certainly didn’t mean that everyone else was too.

Children that had never seen a wheelchair before often gawk and question its existence. Typically, I am up for the brief adversity lesson and smile through the difficult-to-understand explanation of WHY I can’t walk. More than not, kids just want to hear that my legs are broken, that’s much easier. The innocence and curiosity found in a child leaves much room for patience—but doesn’t require it, for all that they want is to understand and learn about the world and everything around them.

Adults, on the other hand, can be a major source for stretched patience, especially when they are the ones to educate that same curious child. Calling a wheelchair a “stroller” is neither accurate nor appropriate when explaining it to someone who’s never seen one. Referring to the largest bathroom in a public restroom as the “kiddie stall” is also not the most thorough of nomenclature. Telling a child to silence their inquisitiveness when they ask about my chair, is just as deafening as telling them not to question anything at all.

What the perspective from my chair has taught me is that patience can be found far easier when it is in the pursuit of understanding. I will gladly wait a few extra minutes to use the larger stall if that means that someone is gaining the experience of learning something new about a life they’ve never known before.

Moreover, patience has taught me to be a much better person.

Author: Ryan McLean