“We are more patient than we have ever been.” -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, in the short story “Evidence”
“Evidence” unfolds looking backward, as people five generations from now wonder and share about how the world has changed. The short story is hopeful, heartfelt. The future Gumbs imagines is sweet and alive and (in the story’s word) “possible.” So reading we wonder, how did things get to this good place?
“We are more patient than we have ever been,” writes a twelve year old looking back.
Since reading the story, I’ve been looking for places to be patient. Patient with this writing, with not knowing what to say. Patient with my disagreements with friends — feeling the space of our tensions, and of our coming back together, and not rushing either of them. Patient with the projects I’m part of, these tasks that often feel like giant oaks, unwieldy with so many roots and branches, growing their long, quiet, balanced way toward the sky. Patient with the slow change we’re working toward in broken systems. Patient with sleep, when it’s slow to come, and with waking when I’m tired in the morning. Patient with hurts and confusions. It’s become a bit of a game, a bit of a joke, a bit of a joy. Something goes not-how-I-expected, and whatever other reactions I have, I hear an echo of Gumbs’ writing: this is a chance to be patient.