Progress must come from deep within and cannot be forced or accelerated. Everything must be carried to term before it is born. To let every impression and the germ of every feeling come to completion inside, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and to wait with deep humility and patience for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist, in the understanding and in one’s creative work.
These things cannot be measured by time, a year has no meaning, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them. It is a lesson I learn every day amid hardships I am thankful for: patience is everything!
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Marie Rilke
The redwoods in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove have been there for several hundred years. The cedars in our campground for 50–100 years. And my father has been in the medical field for almost 40.
“These things cannot be measured in time”… And yet, during his first 3 years in the field, my Dad often worked 138 hours a week.
He sewed up chests stabbed by Smith and Wesson knifes, heads pulped by Louisville Slugger bats, and families gutted by Los Angeles heartaches.
Two med students in his residency committed suicide from depression. My dad held on to hope wherever he could: the woman shot blankly in the head who somehow survived to kiss her son again, the man who stepped off the curb directly into a Rapid Transit bus and still walked out of the hospital to his daughters.
He had never thought of becoming a doctor until his high school teacher Mr. Arnold casually mentioned it one day. A redwood never dreamed of soaring hundreds of feet high until the seed was planted. Sometimes entire generations can grow from the smallest fragment of a moment.
And yet, thousands and millions of moments are needed for the spring storms to grow and ripen into summer. “It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.”
Yosemite Valley was carved out over thousands of years from a glacier. There are over 100 routes to reach the top of El Capitan. And my dad made it to the 1976 Olympics after never missing one of his 4 years of high school wrestling practice.
It’s only been 4 years since we started Amal, and yet I’m still restlessly looking for the summer, impatiently anticipating the hour when a new clarity is delivered. This is what makes me different from a Rainer Rilke artist, different from the redwoods, different from my dad.
And yet, my brother-in-law told me about sap that started growing out of a tree that was cut down last year, new life coming from the dead. He said that the roots from that stump of a tree were somehow connected to the roots of the trees living around it, and so the other trees were able to give the stump the nourishment that its life and future depended on.
Perhaps this is how the lady saw again after the shot to her head. Perhaps this is how the man walked again after the Rapid Transit bus collision. Perhaps this is how I will learn to be patient, in the vast quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before us.