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I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain.
It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
- A passage from Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis
This week’s prompt is inspired by the above, a beautiful passage and a powerful reminder of the importance of being patient; and the potential consequences when we are not. I actually didn’t have the quote to hand last Friday, so I paraphrased, and then gave each writer two small pieces of paper. On each I asked them to write an example of a generic situation in life when patience is important. Those pieces of paper were folded and then placed in the centre of our circle. Each person then picked one, and used what they found written there as inspiration for a story, to be written in 10 minutes.
I highlighted two possible directions they could take it in – either demonstrating how patience pays off in that situation, or the consequences of impatience.
In all honesty my response was by no means the best example, but that’s what I have so I’ll share it. Personally, I found all the stories incredibly moving, with some tender and knowing laughter too. Patience has such profound power, and I am certainly guilty of regularly lacking it. I’m learning – but slowly. Guess I’d better be patient with myself 🙂
So, this is what I wrote:
She leaned against the gate and watched. The sun was up, but not yet high, and the dew had not yet lifted itself from the grass that glistened, silver and expectant.
“Give up!” her brother had said.
“Stop wasting your time” her mother insisted. “Lord knows there’s precious little to waste young lady, and I…”
Sam hadn’t heard the rest. She’d managed to look as if she’d been listening, but her mind had drifted elsewhere; to this gate, this field.
She watched as the filly tossed her head, still not coming within twenty feet of her, let alone deigning to be touched. It occurred to her, as she lifted her own head to watch something fly over high above, shielding her eyes to try and identify it, that her father was the only one who’d not weighed in with an opinion on this. How had she not noticed before? He’d neither encouraged nor discouraged, just kept out of it. Watching. Waiting.
She smiled. He was waiting and watching her. She was waiting and watching –
“Here girl,” she tried again, calling gently and holding out her hand, knowing nothing would happen, just enjoying their little game. She calmly took in everything about the filly; her not yet full tail, the way her chestnut colouring darkened on its way down her legs, the angle of her head, the shape of her ears.
“Nothing to see here.” The phrase came from nowhere. “It’s rude to stare.” Her mother’s voice continued in her mind. “I didn’t bring you up to stare young lady.”
Sam turned away until her shoulder faced the filly, and breathed gently, deeply. She was looking towards the river but didn’t see it. Every ounce of her was listening out, feeling through the ground – was the filly moving? Coming closer? She hardly dared look.
She saw her dad walking towards her and heard the filly snort and canter away in the opposite direction. She rushed towards her father to tell him what she thought she might’ve discovered.
What situations recently have called upon all your reserves of patience?
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: