Patience is not something familiar to modern life. In this fast-paced world, nobody likes to queue, to wait to pay, or to see a doctor, or to sit behind slower cars in traffic. Even in rural areas, patience is rare, though situations that require it are tolerated a little better than they are in large towns and cities.
In London, I tired of waiting for buses, crowds blocking pavements, and companies putting you on hold on the telephone. A wait for a parcel or delivery seemed interminable, and even small shops always had slow queues at the checkout. Patience got you nowhere, so it appeared. Moaning and blustering got more tills open, and pushing got you on the bus before the others. As for driving, you had to become a demon behind the wheel, and take outrageous chances, just to get anywhere.
I have no idea what I did with any of the time saved as a result of this behaviour. I doubt that it was ever put to any meaningful use. The bus still took too long to get anywhere, even if I had managed to get a seat. The journey home from the shops was the same, no matter how quickly I had paid. Once you had arrived early by car, all you could do was kill that time, until your appointment was due. This behaviour also transferred to mundane things, like watching TV. I wanted entertainment immediately, so not prepared to wait, I flicked through channels, trying in vain to find something to fill the time until my programme of choice came on. If I wasn’t satisfied, on went a DVD film instead, and after a few minutes, if that wasn’t capturing my attention, it was changed for another.
I lived my whole life, working and not working, in a state of permanent impatience. It was so stressful to do this, I wonder that I am still alive today.
These days, I find that I am a lot more patient. Moving to a slower lifestyle helps with that. Not working, and not having to be anywhere at a given time very often, also makes it easier of course. Things definitely go slower in the countryside. If you don’t allow yourself to flow with this, you will get nowhere, and just end up frustrated. Specific things have taught me how to be patient. My dog is patient, like most pets. He waits patiently, until it is time for him to go out. He rests peacefully, until his food is served, and sits quietly in the evenings, preparing for sleep. Not for him the pointless rushing around to get nowhere fast. He paces his day, and his life, dependent on our actions, and his inner time-clock. If something doesn’t happen when he would like it to, he drops off to sleep. He knows it is likely to come eventually, and nothing he does will make it any quicker.
Over the Meadow, by the bend in the river, I watch the Egrets. They stand patiently in the water, waiting for the small fish to appear in range of their beaks. They have built-in patience, for them it is instinctive. For us, it is something to learn. A skill to develop, a virtue to acquire. It makes life more meaningful, and the passage of that life easier to deal with. It might even prolong life, and will certainly make it more pleasant. There should be schools of patience, and more importance placed on it.
I feel that I am getting there. It is a slow process, but a worthwhile one. Next time you feel yourself getting impatient, try to take a step back. Evaluate your frustration, consider if it is really worth it. You might be pleasantly surprised.