This I Believe

David - Danville, Virginia
Entered on August 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I Believe in Patience.

Though my lifelong belief in patience had been a mystery to me, I now have traced this belief through poetry.

That’s right – poetry.

For many years I thought that I believed in patience because of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” which I read as a young child. Throughout the years, I have kept my head while others were losing theirs and blaming it on me. I have also followed Kipling’s many suggestions for “being a man” including, “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.”

My belief in patience has been displayed daily when I uncomplainingly stand in long super market lines, silently wait on hold for a customer service person on the telephone, or un-aggressively drive in heavy rush hour traffic.

Only recently did I understand that it was my father, not Kipling, who instilled patience within me.

In July, 2007, I was cleaning out a box of old papers and discovered, for the first time, dozens of my father’s poems written in the late 1920s and early 30s.

While reading through the collection, the words of my father, who died in 1980, spoke to me and taught me many things about myself. My father was a plumber by trade; but, he was also a poet. He wrote about love, death, his dog, people, his hopes, his fears, and fishing.

One of his poems, entitled “The Best Fisherman,” helped me to better understand my patient demeanor. Here is his poem.

“The Best Fisherman”

by John Emerson Hoffman

The man who can wait

By a stream so still,

Holding the fish pole

With hands that will

Be patient and steady

With his mind at ease,

Is the one remains fishing

When all others cease.

The man who patiently

Watches the bobber rise and fall,

While the hours pass away

Is the best one of all;

For any sign of a bite

He’s alive to pull

And returns home at night

With his basket full.

The man without patience

Could never have much luck

For it’s stamina, vigor

Alertness and pluck.

That makes a good fisherman

Makes a good fellow, too,

For he could tackle anything

And successfully come through.

When I was a child, my father took me fishing, and we spent many afternoons on the bank of the river with our lines in the water. Sometimes we came home with our basket full; sometimes our basket was empty.

On days when we came home with an empty basket, the days were not lost because we had the patience to wait, together, and see what would happen. Sometimes the only thing that happened during those afternoons on the river was a growing bond between father and son, and a lesson for the son about patience. This became clear to me when I read my father’s poem, and this is why I believe in patience.

(479 words)