Be Patient with Your Life

July 19, 2013
By
Dorah receiving some last-minute touch-ups for the camera.

Dorah receiving some last-minute touch-ups for the camera.

It’s all a bit overwhelming, I would think.

I pick Dorah up at her dorm at the University of San Diego, a place she has called “home” for only three weeks.  (She’s here as a Hansen Fellow for a Leadership Institute.)

It’s a typically bright, sunny day.  We drive to a location not far away, maybe 15 minutes.  On the way, my mom calls.  We speak to her through Bluetooth, meaning her voice comes through the radio speakers of the car.  This, too, is new to Dorah.

Our destination is the nice, but not lavish offices of a well-respected non-profit organization that serves victims of domestic violence.  When we enter the front door, a host of smiley faces greets us—every eye on Dorah—for she is the subject of the photo-shoot and interview that have beckoned us.  (She is one of a handful of women chosen for this very special video and photo project, called “My Sister’s Voice.”)

We are buzzed through the security door, and we emerge into a space where hugs and introductions are exchanged.  Still, every eye is on Dorah.  By her manner, I can tell that she senses it.  Not with discomfort, but with that awkward feeling that comes from being the center of such attention.

IMAG0989 (1)Into makeup she goes.  Unlike some of my daughters, Dorah doesn’t love makeup, but the artist explains that it’s more for the camera than it is for her, and if Dorah doesn’t like the makeup, they’ll change it.

Then into the studio.  Bright lights.  Again, every eye on her.  And cameras, too.

And then the questions, presented with tremendous respect.

She’s nervous at first, but I think I’m the only one who noticed.  I’m her dad. I have been in similar situations.  I know (kind of).

And then a final question comes: “What advice do you have for others, for people watching this?”

Dorah looks directly into the camera and says, “Be patient with your life.”

And then a pause, and she repeats, “Be patient with your life.  Every morning I must take medication because I am living with HIV.  And every evening, I must take medication again.  And I do it knowing that one day I will no longer have to do so because a cure will have been found.  And I hope to be a part of that process once I have earned my degree in medicine.  But that is in the future.  Today, I am patient with my life.”  Be present.  Experience today while hoping for tomorrow.

Then still shots are taken in a studio across the hall, a long process of poses and hundreds of shots.  Then we say our goodbyes, and return to my little car.

She puts on her sunglasses, rests one foot on the dash, and says, “Dad, let’s go out.”

And so we did.

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14 Responses to Be Patient with Your Life

  1. Lynne
    July 19, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Thank your daughter for this. I had cancer in my 40’s. Both of my parents have been diagnosed. One has died and there are days I struggle to hold onto hope. I think, “One day cancer will get me”, rather than your daughter’s beautiful outlook that one day she will not need to take the meds because there has been a cure. I needed to have that hope restored.

    Thank you.

    • July 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Thank you for sharing this, Lynne. There are certainly peaks and valleys for my kids and myself as we try to understand our many realities, but hope always outshines the rest in the end. Thank you for being candid and authentic.

  2. Lynda
    July 19, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Amazing insight for one so young!

    Do all Ugandans pack a walloping sermon in short sentences, or just your kids? 🙂

    • July 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

      I am tempted to say that it’s just my kids, but the truth is I have long-admired the way Ugandans can often capture an enormous thought through the strong, but brief, use of language. Thanks for posting.

  3. Vicki
    July 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

    This one-liner will be resonating in my mind … I hope for a long time. Thank you, Dora, for partnering with God as He speaks into my heart.

  4. Nancy Miller
    July 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    This amazing young woman has great wisdom. Nathaniel, your gentle care of her has enabled her to develop her insight and wisdom. These words are exactly what I need to hear in my life right now. And as often happens, the Universe provides!!

    • July 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for this, Nancy. I am pleased that we all seem to nurture each other in ways big and small. Namaste, –N

  5. Nancy Miller
    July 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Me, too. Namaste, right back at you!!

  6. Susan Plimpton
    July 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I am currently recovering from cancer surgery but facing more chemo in the near future. Dorah’s message is so relevant to my situation. Thank you so much for sharing it. And yes, I agree Ugandans have a way of saying a lot in a few words. Susan Plimpton

    • July 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thank you for sharing this with us, Susan. I am sorry to hear that you’re in the middle of this trial. I will add you to my prayers, and am so grateful to know you. Our very best, –N and (Dorah, too)

  7. Nigel
    July 26, 2013 at 4:25 am

    So thankful to have met Dorah for a brief moment just before departing San Diego. Noticing how full of love she is, I had no idea she was living with HIV. Her strength is inspiring. Thanks for posting this, we can all learn from Dorah’s advice and apply it in everyday life. Say Nathaniel, it’s great thing what you’ve done with Aidchild. Would love to volunteer and get involved, any idea on how I could apply?

    • July 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Thanks for the reply, Nigel. Where did you meet Dorah? To apply, send an email (info@aidchild.org) with possible dates, and the types of projects you might be able to support while in Uganda. Thanks for all of this! –N

  8. dorah
    October 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    It’s always promising to see such posts! Life needs patience, I remember my first video interview ever! With the so many poses for photo shots! Let’s all rise for a new hope awaits for a cut tree to grow! Love u Dad! Thanks for reminding me of this!

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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