Patience

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.

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10 thoughts on “Patience

  1. I recall that you and I had very different patience ‘swing-o-meters’ when it came to dealing with our patients (pun intended) Pete! I recall a particular lady, a fairly regular ‘non-urgent’ call, who was very demanding regarding her personal comfort – “plump my pillow” being one demand that always tried my patience – but which never fazed you at all …. or was that simply because she reminded you of Ann Margaret! But seriously, it’s a very interesting philosophical question, and your consideration of the animal perspective has parallels in the buddhist teaching of desire being the source of all suffering, animals being able, for the most part, to be entirely focussed on ‘now’ – one notable exception being a certain Queen of The Upper Nile who has no patience whatsoever and is constantly dancing around whilst waiting for the next exciting thing to happen!!

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    1. Looking back, I now see that I was rather patient with some difficult ‘customers’ in the old days. I didn’t think so at the time though, and often got very frustrated with them. Especially those who wanted you to move their drinking straw to within exact range of their puckering lips!
      Thanks for the reflections Billy, and the comment. X

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  2. I get told off for looking at my watch all the time.
    I’m usually in no hurry but it’s a force of habit thanks to being governed by the clock at work… Time, Time, Time is everything at work. It’s how we are measured.
    This post did make me chuckle Pete.
    I’m sat on a bus on Oxford street & running about five minutes late.

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    1. Yes Jimmy, that job does make us time-conscious. Everything about it, from origin time, to arrival time, on to availability for the next call, all time-driven. Perhaps that’s why I don’t miss it at all?
      Cheers mate, Pete.

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  3. Reminds me of the Jasper Carrot sketch about a family drive to the sea side in a Morris Minor and the speeding motorist overtaking them; ‘they won’t get there any quicker’ his gran declared from the back seat of the car. The joke was then built around the fact that he would as they were only traveling at 30mph on the M1!
    I am a very patient driver, making sure I let other cars out at junctions and letting pedestrians cross the road, I’m also happy to wait for things like trains and planes, as long as I have a book to read. However when it comes to waiting for paint to dry or varnish to set I don’t seem to have the ability to follow the instructions and wait the required time between coats!
    All the best Pete, the Winkos.

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    1. I never had the patience to wait for glue to set in models as a kid. And I used to miss bits out, to get them finished faster. They always looked rubbish as a result.
      Cheers Eddy.

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  4. I have selective patience! if I’m waiting in an office, for example, I’ll say, ‘Oh, take your time.” The reason? I’m either reading articles in one of the magazines that some offices provide, or else I’m reading a few more pages in a good French book I’ve brought along. If I don’t have anything to read, I’ll look at the wall decorations, or simply engage in the physical/mental art of relaxing. On the phone, once I’ve got a live person on the line (up until which time I can be impatient), I’m also very patient. Once again: “No problem. I can hold.” At the post office, I can be patient or impatient, depending on how the line is moving, which is directly proportional to whether the postal workers are working at a snail’s pace and/or chatting unnecessarily with a customer, or actually bustling to diminish the length of the line. When driving, I am usually patient, although I prefer to drive at or near the speed limit (rarely over). If someone ahead of me is dawdling at a much slower speed,and for no apparent reason, I’ll slip into the high gear of impatience. I don’t think my selective patience has really changed much over the years. Mostly, I think the pendulum swings in accordance with common sense judgment. Unless one is on a very long road trip, driving over the speed limit reaps very little benefit–and, of course, one risks a speeding ticket, or perhaps an accident or simple loss of control of the car (for example, a blowout). I’ve found that people on the phone, or office personnel, are often likely to fret over the amount of time a customer must wait for results. I enjoy alleviating their anxiety, which probably stems from their own experiences in life. When it comes to blog posts…. Well, thanks for reading my reply!

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  5. I think it is something that many people learn to be as they get older. Maybe as your body slows down so does your behaviour. I believe I have always been quite a patient and calm person – must have been all that Yoga and meditation stuff back in the ’70s 😉 But I also am a planner and organiser so I don’t have to rush around madly. It drives my OH crazy – he is very impatient and gets himself all wound up at times and I just sit there serenely. (I know – so irritating)
    “Que Sera, Sera”
    Jude xx

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    1. Age does help a lot Jude, though I have met a lot of very impatient old people. You are lucky to always have been calm, and a planner. That should see you through to a ripe old age!
      Regards as always, Pete. x

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