The Ball is in Their Court

I have a little fortune cookie fortune taped to my old monitor that reads “Patience is one of the hardest virtues to master.” It sits there, reminding me time and time again that I need to be patient. Not everything or everyone operates on “my time” and I must learn to deal with it.

I often feel as though I am perpetually impatient. When certain things take precedence in my life, I focus on them. Thanks to my attention span issues, I kind of have a one track mind about them too. So, when those same things are not important to others, I of course get impatient.

My mother used to chide me that patience was a virtue I never learned. After all, I was often in a rush. I rushed through homework. I rushed through chores. I rushed through meals and other things. I even rushed through writing sometimes. I rarely took time to just be and be patient. It wasn’t in my nature.

Even now, there are times when patience still isn’t my strong suit.

My readers can’t read my books and posts fast enough. Emails or texts I want answers to immediately go days without answers. Webpages don’t load quick enough. Things at work that are important (to me) aren’t being dealt with soon enough for my liking (though they do get dealt with). My other half moves at his pace instead of mine. I want to be on the go, go, go and sometimes even my own body wants to take a break and reminds me, painfully so.

Patience is a virtue that I still need to work on. After all, I have to give others the time they need. I have to give myself the time I need.

Since my brain often works in metaphors, I have found one I use quite often to remind myself that things will take time to do, especially things that require the actions of others. Even though I suck at playing tennis, I use a tennis-related metaphor.

The ball is in their court.

It’s a simple metaphor. After all, it means the ball has traveled across the net and is now the responsibility of someone else. But I must remind myself, sometimes over and over and over again, that the ball is on the other side of the court. I have done all I can possibly do. I have served the ball. And now I must wait, albeit impatiently, for the actions of others.

Sometimes, the ball is taken out of play on the other side of the court.

Sometimes, it sits on that side of the court for awhile, tantalizingly out of reach.

Sometimes, I get the ball passed back to me in a direction I wasn’t expecting.

But always, the ball is now out of my hands, and I must wait for the reactions of others, even if I don’t want to.

After all, the ball is not in my court.

This metaphor does help me, especially in the times when I want to know the answers right away, when I want actions immediately, when I need instant gratification. I know I must sit and wait. Or in actuality, pace the floor endlessly and find things to fill my mind so I am not focused on whatever I am waiting for.

The ball is in their court.

I also use that metaphor for others. For example, when helping friends with issues they are having, I do what I can and then remind them the ball is now in their court to do with what they feel best. I place the responsibility with them to do what needs to be done. I am serving to them, putting the ball in play. What they do with it is up to them.

I often have several different balls in several different courts. After all, I am very busy between the writing, the full time job, the stuff I do with friends, things in the community that I work on, and the other half and the felines that own us. And often, I must remind myself that I sent the balls over the net. I must wait, often impatiently, as I learn the value of the virtue I never really had.

Of course, when the ball comes back to me, more often than not, it is as I expected. Sometimes, even the expectation surprises me, for I brace myself that perhaps the way I served wasn’t the best, that my intentions, while meant well, will be received wrong. Or maybe, the ball will stay forever in the other person’s court. Or maybe, it will go wildly off course and someone else will have to serve it.

Regardless, I am still learning how to serve the ball and then wait. I am learning how to adjust my reactions appropriately if the ball is returned in a way I don’t want. I am learning how to let go if the ball never returns or is taken out of the game.

For that is how life is written. The story continues, even if the chapter closes. It’s in finding the magic in the serve, in the waiting, in the answers, that keeps us going. It’s being patient, even when we don’t want to be.

The ball is in their court.

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5 thoughts on “The Ball is in Their Court

  1. I’ve learned to be patient over the years (there’s always room for improvement, but I’d say I’m pretty good). It still bugs me when things I see important are not so for others. Sometimes it’s because I am impatient, but most of the time it’s because I feel like when others want something, I am quick to oblige and they don’t need to be patient. Heck, if I did not assist in due time, they would have NO patience. Yet, I am left waiting. It’s unfair and that’s what bothers me.

    The ball in their court metaphor is a good one. However, I find that if you let the ball just sit there, it will just sit there forever. But, if you bug them a million times a day for 30 days, they might finally give up and toss it back at you. Again – frustration where there shouldn’t be.

    I really liked this paragraph: “Sometimes, even the expectation surprises me, for I brace myself that perhaps the way I served wasn’t the best, that my intentions, while meant well, will be received wrong.”

    This comment was not meant to be negative. I just wanted to point out how some people (like you) will do everything to improve while others don’t really care (they will walk off the court and grab a bite to eat and then never return).


    1. Yes, but I can’t do anything WHEN the ball is in their court. Sometimes, it’s supposed to sit in their court forever too. I can’t do much when it’s over there except wait, and occasionally remind….. if need be. But it’s very much a metaphor for patience for me. Then again, I also don’t work a career where the ball is often left in other’s courts but if it is, I’m not the one who dropped the ball.

      Liked by 1 person

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