Patience – “Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Some Scots for you in the title today.

“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Translation: What’s for you will not go by you.

My Scots grandmother or, in more recent times, a dear friend (also Scots, naturally!) would use this to remind me to have patience, to relax, to be myself rather than feel urgency.

As this once again came up for me recently, am musing today, then, on patience and time.

Yesterday I wrote about two inspiring young leaders, Elin Errson and Emma Gonzalez, in: “We can all be brave leaders through our individual actions“. A few months ago I was also inspired by Emma Gonzalez to write: “How do you build a movement? Patiently“, and the post began:

I came up with the title of this post inspired by an old joke :

Q : How do hedgehogs make love ? A : Very, very carefully

So, how do you build a movement for systemic change ? I believe that the answer remains, even in this fast changing world…..very, very patiently.

So, to patience. Some of the most powerful and most changes in our world (as created by movement of people) and beautiful creations of our world (in nature, as well as man-made) take so much more time to build than we like to allow for.

Ok, let me first own that part personally. I spent many years of my career getting a lot of things done in a short period of time. I was compensated for it well and I also enjoyed it much of the time. I liked being efficient and effective and applying my work ethic and intellect to doing a lot, and often I could have spent more time being.

If we consider this paradigm around the world of work and recognise that we tend to extend it into all facets of life, again I’ll personalise this. My friends know that I used to plan everything to within an inch, months and even years ahead. I did not leave time or space to, as I wrote about recently, “Create Serendipity“.

Now, back from my musings my own life lessons, we can create serendipity with various methods and approaches in the article, we can intellectually choose to be less busy, yet unless and until we can fully recognise the wisdom of Scottish grandmothers, our energy will still, at least to some extent, be one of urgency rather than calmly allow things to evolve over time.

When we do, we allow, with true patience, the most powerful and beautiful to evolve.

One example is Sagrada Familia, the crowning glory of the genius of Antonio Gaudi. The thing is, he died in 1926 with the work less than one-quarter complete. Even now it is incomplete, though “nearly” complete (expected within a decade). Gaudi knew it would take long beyond his lifetime to complete this masterpiece, and when queried on this, he noted:

“My client is not in a hurry.”

Gaudi had patience, as have generations of dedicated artisans, designers and others putting their lives into this majestic building.


Oh, and there are so many images shared of the exterior, this is of the interior. It is one of the most amazing man-made creations I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.


To close, patience requires a way of being, to truly embody:

“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye”

Zen Masters have such patience, typified by the zen saying:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

This reminds me of one of my favourite Van  Morrison songs, from my favourite album of his, Enlightenment.

At any time I feel the need to bring zen and patience for myself, I’ll listen to the title track, as well as “So Quiet in Here” and other beautiful tracks that, to me, represent “Van the Man” at his mature best, decades into his life as a musician.

The video below of the title track includes the lyrics, which begin with:

Chop that wood
Carry water
What’s the sound of one hand clapping
Enlightenment, don’t know what it is

(and…in a beautifully romantic improvisation, as he riffs towards the end of the song, as he repeats the line, he adds a little….”Enlightenment, don’t know what it is.. except for you”)


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