Expat Living, Learnings, Mali
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on the patiences

Question: if good things come to those who wait, does patience come as well?

A new variety of patience has made itself known during the process of Growing Up. It’s distinct from Waiting Patience, as in waiting in line, waiting for dessert, waiting for a promotion, or waiting for things to come together.

Mali rural village agriculture field training monitoring

I call it Watching Patience, and it’s much messier and more confusing, although possibly more rewarding. It’s the patience that accompanies growth and change when they take months, years, even decades. Waiting Patience has a discernible end; Watching Patience discerns little in advance, only you imagine you’ll recognize the fruits of the process when you see them.


The most striking difference between these two Patiences is the way they proceed. With Waiting Patience, you can break down the steps and be confident in your progress. Each bite of vegetables brings me closer to dessert… each step forward brings me closer to completing a marathon… each course brings me closer to a degree, and so on.

But Watching Patience requires a near-impossible level of trust and confidence in the Universe, because the steps are chipped away and the path is overgrown with unruly fauna, and there aren’t any signposts along the way. Watching Patience is full of questions: Is this the way? Have I made a mistake somewhere? Who should I bring with me? What does the next destination look like? Am I even moving forwards, or sideways, or at least onwards?

Mali agriculture village field boy horizon

You don’t know, you can’t know, you can only watch, look about for clues, learn, and go forth. This is the new patience, the patience that precedes and accompanies growth in a wild world.

And so I hope that patience also comes to those who wait, the Watching kind, as it is most assuredly a good thing.

Photos of fields in Massala Village, South of Bamako, Mali

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