The Trouble with the New York Minute

The Trouble with the New York Minute

Oh, impatience, you teach us so much.

Our western, capitalist society is highly creative, driven, and sometimes impatient. Recently, I met someone who stirred an old memory. Years ago, I was momentarily undone by an experience I had at a job. I was a waiter in my first week of training, trying to remember about 17 timely things at once (not my strength), when I heard someone snap their fingers. Yes, a customer had directed it at me. “I want a chardonnay—and I want it in a New York Minute,” he said with a piercing gaze, tapping his finger on the table to further drive his point.

He got under my skin immediately, and I knew I was risking my tip as I shot back in my best valley guy accent, “Oh-my-gawd, does that mean, like, now?” He looked a bit startled, and we had a “moment” staring each other down. I’m not sure how, but this broke the ice and he softened and simply said, “Yes, please.” But as he squirmed throughout the entire meal, his impatience really caught my attention.

Now, years after that short but indelible memory, I am constantly reminded that life bombards us daily with a mindset of getting everything done in a New York Minute. It’s a gratification addiction. Often, with a high level of creative output comes adrenaline. With too much adrenaline, there comes an edgy impatience, followed by inévitable pressure. Not only has stress been proven to have negative health effects on the physical body, but it also causes an agitated and irritable mind. With these qualities, we become more repellent than attractive to those with whom we interact. None of us really can escape its grasp.

If we allow or glorify an impatient mindset, it gets deeply embedded, literally routed through our brain synapses. Once we have established an “impatience patterning” in our brains, it can be nearly impossible to simultaneously do personal growth work in peace. Some people are literally paralyzed by this inner critic. Others externalize it, and become terse and demanding, even mean-spirited.

If you are reading this piece, you are probably consciously practicing some form of personal growth. For those of us on this path, this immediate gratification addiction bumps up against our deeper yearning to be here now and let the moment be the teacher. Deep within, we understand that internal work—progressive personal growth—cannot be snapped into place.

As we work to improve the quality of our lives—our health, relationships, career, and creative expressions—let’s remember that small steps are good steps. A fully awakened life cannot be acquired in a New York Minute. And just as the sun moves from winter to summer with absolute certainty and gradualness, so, too, does our personal growth move with the same profound patterning.

The patient mind is, paradoxically, the only way our gentle, yet earth-shaking personal power can be brought forward. It is the patience itself that fuels the sacred spark, which ignites our creative flow. This fire is best tended to over time, so as not to burn ourselves out.

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