I have a favorite breakfast: sunny-side up eggs with a side of toast. Nothing fancy. It began when I was a girl. My father would wake my brother and me and woo us down to breakfast with the promise of something nice. One day it would be these happy little eggs. Another day maybe it was a frittata with some leftover potato and onion. The days he had a little more time, he would spread margarine on sliced bread and bake it in tin foil until the edges crisped and the centers mellowed. He called this simply: heated bread. Some mornings he didn’t cook. On these days we’d come down to find a paper bag filled with fresh sugar doughnuts. Not powdered sugar but ones with little rock sugar crystals that crunched with each bite. I’m sure his mornings back then were busy. I’m sure he didn’t always want to get up so early so he could think about what to make; then take the time to make it. But he did it anyway. I think about these mornings often. Mostly when I’m not in the mood to cook. Or lately, when I’m struggling to write. I think about how hard it is to wait: for food when I’m hungry; for more time when I’m teasing out an idea; for most anything I want very much.
We’re not really a culture of patience anymore. In these modern times technology has made waiting as common as a unicorn. Why wait when we don’t have to anymore? If we need to know what something looks like we scroll the internet. If we want to know what something sounds like we scroll the internet. We are left rapidly scrolling cyberspace for what used to be carefully cultivated relationships. Email. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Relationships that used to develop over time and in person through notes, shared moments, and a history together are no longer. The paper pages of books and magazines we enjoyed flipping through are now Kindle. Things appear. Like magic. Like when I was a girl and I would come down to breakfast and it was just there.
This rapid pace of life has made us impatient. Look at Miley Cyrus. It’s as though she went from Disney wonder teen to misguided girl in a New York minute. This has left people reeling. But when I look at tabloid photos of her with her tongue hanging out, I shake my head and it’s not because I’m judging her. It’s because I feel as though she’s getting a raw deal. What did she do really? She cut her hair. She’s being overtly sexual, or at least playing at it. But had these changes taken time–had she arrived at the age of forty with cropped hair and greater sexual freedom would it be so scandalous? I doubt it. I know lots of women who have. Especially since having kids. They’ve arrived somewhere in the middle of life with shorter hair and sexual ease but with no judgement. That’s because transformations like these, carried out in real time, are accepted. Unlike Miley’s, whose millennial existence can only be described in fast forward. Maybe the issue isn’t the change at all, just that it was so sudden.
Time has always been a beautiful thing, but never before like it is today. Getting from one place to another; starting and finishing anything; putting effort and energy into a relationship…these all take time. But it’s not the time so much as it is the journey. Knowing this and having the patience not only to get there, but also to enjoy the ride, well, that’s the difference. In the case of my mornings with breakfast waiting on the table, that was my father’s love. His love for his children and also his love for his wife, who left the house hours earlier for a nursing shift. In Miley’s case, she might just be enjoying the freedom to do anything, play at anything. There’s not a lot of free time in our house these days, especially in the morning. I make the same breakfasts my dad used to make. My eggs aren’t as good, but it’s nice to do them anyway.