Patience is something that most of us could do more with. Modern life means everything has to be delivered in an instant. People want immediate answers, results, delivery and relationships. But in truth, most good things take time. If you want to learn something of worth, you’re likely going to have to spend months (if not years) studying. If you want to get fit and healthy, you’re going to have to eat properly and work out for a good few months. If you want to to build a trustworthy relationship, you’re going to have to build a genuine friendship first and work through any issues together, before you walk up the aisle.
Patience is a good thing, as it keeps things simple and in the real world. If people had patience, there would be no market for slimming pills, late-night TV get-fit inventions that waste money and sit in the garage. There would be no charlatons online selling ‘instant certificates’ to qualify in something that should take months or proper study. And the ‘instant friendships’ would fall away, to be replaced by a few loving kind friends who stick by you through thick-and-thin.
If someone who needs counselling goes to their GP these days, they are not offered a qualified person to sit and patiently listen to their problems (and sometimes that’s all that’s needed). They are nearly always offered cognitive behaviour therapy, which involves drawing numbers and questions on a board, so the NHS can save money, and the next patient can come in. Other patients who need helpful advice on what to eat and how to move, are instead given pills to qualm whatever ails them, because overworked doctors have no time to sit down and talk through what the best long-term solutions are.
The TV channels are awash with programmes that are boring and patronising and make people feel stressed, from competitions to see who can bake or dance or paint the best (with ‘experts’ who often have no training themselves either giving advice or even laughing at people who don’t have any talent). But patience would mean you could take a few months to take a baking or dance or painting class yourself, then turn the TV off and get outside in nature (or in your kitchen or in the dance hall) to actually ‘do the things’ yourself.
The lack of patience affects everything these days. People in England are beginning to forget the tradition of queuing (some people say we are so good at this – that often we join a queue first, then ask what it’s for!) Bookstores are packed with recipes for ‘quick-cook meals’ (good sometimes, but other times the slow art of cooking itself is relaxing and part of life’s pleasures). We have road rage, because people can’t be doing with waiting at traffic lights, others who want ‘short sharp shock’ treatment of prisoners (rather than patiently figuring out why they turned to crime, and spending time rehabilitating them so they don’t reoffend). How many people do you know who ‘play a little guitar’ or ‘know a little about gardening?’ Most people give up, before they even start to try.
a Buddhist parable on patience
Buddha was thirsty, so asked an impatient discipline to bring him water from the lake. But the water was muddy, so he returned. So Buddha sent him back to the lake to find water. The disciple was angry, because now he had to back to colleect muddy water. But when he went back – the water was clear. He asked Buddha ‘what have you done to clean the water?’ Buddha replied that he had done nothing. ‘You waited and let it be. So the mud settles, now the water is clear. Your mind is like that too. Give it time to reach balance, without any effort’.
Patience is the calm acceptance, that things can happen in a different order, than the one you have in your mind. David G Allen
The secret of patience, is to do something else in the meantime. Croft M Pentz