Spring in Wyoming is an emotional roller-coaster. One day the sun is shining, the wind has stopped blowing and you’re smiling at the clear blue sky (while you internally curse the dead bush that you’re trying to dig out of the ground in your front yard) and the next day it’s snowing and feels like you’re back in the middle of January.

I’m not a cold-weather person. I feel a little nervous letting that be known publicly, as it’s almost a Wyoming badge of honor to stoically survive our long and brutal winter months without a complaint. Some might say that we don’t complain because the tears running down our cheeks have frozen our lips shut, but I’ll just assume that other folks are made of sterner stuff than I.

Every year about this time I find myself overcome with the excitement of the upcoming summer months and all the excitement that they bring to Sheridan (and the minimal chance of blizzards outside of the delicious ice cream treat). Every year I’m also forced to remind myself that April is not July, and I shouldn’t expect it to be warm until at least Rodeo week. Patience is not easy.

This year, it seems that our patience is being tested like never before. We’re starting to emerge from our yearlong isolation because of the pandemic at the same time as our yearly struggle with the Wyoming seasonal change, and sometimes it feels like too much. I don’t want to wear my winter coat anymore. I don’t want to wear a mask anymore. I want to see my friends, and I want to sit on the deck drinking adult beverages while we grill up something tasty. Looking at vaccine rates, infection rates, the weather forecast and the snow coming down at time of writing, I’m reminded that we’re not quite there yet.

My grandmother would say that “patience is a virtue,” and I’ve come to take on that saying as well. When she said it, it was reassuring, comforting and hovered near enlightening. When I say it, the subtext in my voice is clear that what I’m really saying is, “Waiting sucks and I’m about to freak out if something doesn’t move faster.” Maybe, as a child of the Great Depression, she was just more practiced or her threshold for freaking out was quite a bit higher than mine is.

“Patience as a virtue” would bring up the association with other virtues such as self-control (not eating a Blizzard at lunch and dinner every day during the summer) and tolerance (not stepping outside in the morning and screaming at the universe when it’s snowing). I obviously still think it’s a difficult one in practice. As an American, I’m so used to being able to get approximately anything I want whenever I want it. I’m spoiled. Any inconvenience is almost a challenge to my identity and therefore my limited patience is put to the test.

So, how do we not break under the complete strain of seemingly everything in our lives building toward this eagerly anticipated moment of change? No, eating a Blizzard is not the right answer, as I’ve just reminded myself. I think the only way to persevere (without the distraction mentioned above) is by continuing to lean into each other. We’re going to be on the other side of all of this soon. Sometimes just the generosity of giving someone a little hope, love, mercy (and yes, even a gift card to an ice cream establishment) can go a long way toward strengthening our resilience and patience.

There are so many amazing things coming up in Sheridan in the coming months. We’ll be there soon. Hold fast! (like an upturned Blizzard)

Justin Stroup is director of WYO Film Fest. 

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