Is having patience just a waste of time?
- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup milk whole
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour unbleached
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 4 large egg yolks
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup gruyere cheese packed coarsely (about 4 ounces)
- Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Butter 6-cup (1-1/2 quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes; do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg.
- Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl.
- Cool to lukewarm. DO AHEAD; can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
- Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyere cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.
A virtue, she is called. Patience, whom I have (resentfully) obliged for many years (albeit on provisional terms) and I have a sometimes-helpful, symbiotic association. It is a friendship, of sorts: the kind that is long, tumultuous, curious, tedious, and in many ways, unwilling and unlikely. She is something I need, but do not like much. So often over the years, I have thought it proactive to just cut her off at the knees and supplant her with “hurry the hell up.” And even now, I wonder: why can’t “just get on with it” be a virtue instead?
There are times that I long for her. She gives me a calmness and a feeling as close to being-in-control as I think I will ever get although I know that it is at least in part, my middle-aged place where I am now that summons my urging. It is here that I know in no uncertain terms that life does not last forever and as a result, it seems that I’m in an actual battle within myself between my natural intolerance for wasting my time (that has become a laser-focused shortcoming) and my literal, health-based need to not make my blood pressure soar.
Besides, it’s rather hard to ignore that there are times when patience is a fundamental requirement: without her, manicures, cheese soufflés, and allowing your newly-permitted 15-year-old to take the wheel would just not happen. And of course, I have done (and do) these things with patience, but it’s the level of unwilling effort I must summon to conjure her presence that concerns me. I mean, I plan for patience, like a prayer; I set aside undivided time for things like soufflés, making sure that there will be no competition for my attention during their creation. I turn off my phone, I do not listen to music, I make a pact with myself to stay focused and not rush. It seems to me that it requires too much isolation…I’m on a reconnaissance mission to find the smooth segue way from “let’s get this show on the road” to “I am one with the cheese” (so to speak.)
I can’t deny that impatience is sometimes just a trick we worriers, we deniers, we obssessers use to make ourselves think we are in control, or that we’re not missing out on something vital- it can turn into a great length we will employ to avoid being alone with our own thoughts and the intensity of feeling helpless.
Impatience, in these conventions of unbearable literalness, threatens to efface genuine love of life and of purposefulness. It is this heaviness, in the waiting, the limbo, the Purgatory that we impatient sorts are at our ugliest. It is our silent scream for the fixing of wounds that won’t seem to heal which with we face our unresolved, deeply-bruised, states of sorrow where patience is at once vanished, desperate, sensitive to shame, and vigilant, singular, artfully-aware, and a comforting relief.
For us, there is a transgressive quality in allowing situations and people to progress naturally. When does patience become laziness, inaction, an excuse to endure the intolerable? When does it change from a freedom of force to coming across as being remission and self-centeredness? When it is a full-of-crap cop-out that lets you off the hook for tolerating what should be unacceptable?
A couple of my friends rely on Eastern ideas for their “spirituality” and since I consider them to be fairly calm sorts, it occurred to me that I might find my road to chilling-the-hell-out within these ideas. And so I asked a couple of them to explain to me how to be a “peaceful warrior” with logical detachment and what not. However, in my pesky skepticism, I should have known that whole “non-attachment” thing was going to be a sticking point for me. And as predicted, my basic understanding of it was vehemently at odds with my personal outlook. Sort of. Because, actually, this eat-when-I-am-hungry dictum is pretty natural to me. It’s the waiting in some kind of state of grace that really seems too forced for me to ever make a concerted go of it in practice.
And maybe it’s just that I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s that it is at odds with intellectualism. Maybe I’m just not the “let it go and move on” kind. Maybe I don’t EVEN understand patience. Maybe I believe you can have respect for the universe, honor choices that you and others make, revere intent, practice thoughtful living, and be mindful of perspective without (necessarily) being patient. Maybe I think patience can be a dangerous thing if used to mask some kind of fear that prevents us from feeling deserving of good things. Maybe I have only found patience to be practically useful toward the prevention of violence against someone who needlessly keeps me waiting too long. Well, yeah, that actually goes without saying.
I won’t be so arrogant as to say that non-attachment and patience are just fail-safes in which deeply-sensitive people like hide from their tendency to take things too seriously. I won’t air my own long-term frustration with the guilt that tends to make me think there’s some kind of movie-quality beauty about being in the world but not of it; after all, I guess I could see how, if you actually can practice it in the true spirit of experiencing a feeling to the fullest and then allowing that emotion to settle gracefully, that kind of self-regulation might be rather enlightening. But I can’t be graceful, really, when it comes to feelings. And there’s part of me that suspects people who say they can are really just hiding. On the other hand, I rather like the idea that the self-disciplined can be “emotional” in a beautiful, patient, relaxed kind of way. Aspiring for patience can make you take more crap than you should, cause fruitless wasting of time, and keep you from taking / doing the things that you really, really want. I always say things like, “I’m not attached to it” when it is something I don’t especially WANT to be either disappointed by, made angry by, or any other kind of emotional control over me. That’s what I say when I don’t want to feel. That’s when I want it to be a doctrine that will reconcile the place inside where my flaws meet my anguish and my hope meets my fear that I have actually been waiting all my life. I want it to be the axiom that will finally, finally somehow show that life makes sense, tactically, sensually, intellectually, creatively. Somehow, through diligence, methodology, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, I will make sense.
Life and death may be a distance from making soufflés, but fruitlessness and wasting of time are idiotic and deeply disappointing and I genuinely would like to make peace with patience. Disingenuous and trite, failed in its point, or authentic, silent, truthful, like words between lines? I guess I will continue this dance with the most virtuous and divine of the madnesses until I become one with the waiting.