Open Bar: Recapturing Our Lost Patience

Processes move with astonishing speed, faster than our past selves could ever have imagined. Yet our present selves, accustomed to the pace, perceive the ATM or the document review or the dinner service or the courtship as unconscionably slow. In an accelerated world of almost impossible expectations, the slightest delay has us turning to our screens, anxious to fill the void with literally anything. On an individual and collective level, patience is a virtue as lost as the art of human connection. We must regain the power to be patient.

A dearth of patience is the catalyst for a disturbing amount of lawsuits. Instead of taking the time to wade through the messy business of actually figuring out problems, it is far easier in some people’s eyes to outsource the troubling bits to attorneys. Or, not possessing the resolve to prevent inner thoughts from becoming public in the heat of the moment, the impatient trigger a legion of problems. The irony is that surviving the world into which these antsy folks have plunged themselves requires a reserve of patience usually reserved for those following a spiritual calling.

The best piece of advice that I can give to try and prevent this outcome is simple: take time to think before you act. If you believe you need ten seconds, take ten minutes. If you feel like you need a day, take a week. In certain circumstances this might be impossible and inflexible deadlines await you. Fine, those are important too. But, remember that you create your own destiny and that most time limits are arbitrary. Do not fall victim to the unreasonable demands of an inflexible society: be your own person.

But, that person is flawed, as we all are. It is not possible to be patient with others if we are not patient with ourselves. Nurtured or innate, we have the tendency to put pressure on ourselves to achieve goals that are unrealistic. Then, improvidently, we are troubled when we do not meet them. Worse still, we might somehow manage to meet one of those insane objectives and then further skew our self-image. It is great to be motivated, but terrible if this turns into rampant ambition or figurative self-annihilation. The impact on those around us is immeasurable, but rarely in a positive way. If we are short with ourselves, we are snippy with our loved ones. If we cannot stand a minute’s delay in our own self-imposed agenda, we are going to become one of those lunatics that lash out at cashiers.

Life unfolds in a mysterious manner that we cannot control. Sometimes we need to wait a bit to see how the plot twists unfurl. Or, we need to take a step back from the situation and reevaluate instead of plunging ahead on our first instinct. Existence is a sometimes tedious process and we need to accept that. Not trying to wring every second out of every day or every dollar out of every opportunity is not evidence of creeping laziness, obvious exceptions duly noted.

When you are young like my precious Violet, impatience is an understandable attribute. But, those reading this are not likely five years old. And, if you are, come around and see me, I may have a job for you!

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