The Last Bit of Toothpaste
It’s getting dark outside, almost bedtime. Jeff is in the bathroom brushing his teeth.
I walk into the bathroom too and grab my toothbrush. Jeff hands me the toothpaste tube. It’s been squeezed so much already that surely another drop can’t come out.
I say thanks but no thanks. I give the tube back to him.
And I reach for my own tube of toothpaste in the drawer.
He suddenly laughs and laughs.
I don’t get it. At first….
How Patient Are You?
Many people (myself included) don’t think they’re patient. We think we’re bad at waiting. And maybe we often are. (I was on hold with AT&T last week when my internet went down; don’t ask me about my patience.)
But maybe it’s not patience in general that we lack. Maybe our patience level is just dependent on what we’re being patient for.
For instance, Jeff and I do this unspoken thing with the ham.
We buy a full ham at the grocery store to have on hand for sandwiches. But we know we’ll never eat the whole ham before it goes bad.
So after the package is opened, it needs to be divided into smaller packages to put in the freezer. It’s a bit of a hassle. You have to fight with the saran wrap, and use up some of your time to do it.
Thus, nobody wants to open the ham.
If you’re first, you’re responsible for putting it up.
But if you can wait out the other person, they’ll have to do it and you’ll be scot-free.
It sounds ridiculous, I realize, and also quite selfish, which aren’t top traits we like to label ourselves with.
But what does this waiting bring out in us?
Incredible amounts of patience. Patience we never knew we had. I can patiently wait to open the the ham for days, thinking Jeff will get to it before I do. And he likewise.
More Patient Than We Know
The same thing is happening now with the toothpaste.
Jeff has been waiting for me to get tired of squeezing the tube so I would hunt through the drawer to find the new tube (and I confess, it can be a scary hunt through the drawer).
But when I pull out a different toothpaste I’ve been using for weeks—a separate brand I’ve been trying for sensitive teeth—Jeff confesses he has been holding out for naught.
He has been so patient.
So now he laughs. He had only been waiting on himself. He could have waited forever.
And I laugh too. I totally relate; it’s the kind of thing I do as well.
I may not always be patient with him, but I can be quite patient with my own procrastination, with my own avoidance of work, with my own faults.
I may not be patient enough with others. But am I too patient with my own procrastination, too patient with my own avoidance of work, too patient with my own faults?
Maybe we’re all more patient than we think.
And maybe patience isn’t always a virtue?
* * *
Do you consider yourself patient? Share in the comments.
- Share Four Somethings—April 2022
- 6 Books I Recommend—April 2022