“There is however a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.”
Edmund Burke - Observations on a Late Publication on the Present State of the Nation
No, this isn’t a political rant. No, this has nothing to do with the upcoming US presidential elections. And, no, there is nothing about this musing which has any political motivation whatsoever. This is all about patience.
I hate patience. I empathize with Sally in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, when she tells Dr. Finklestein, “But I don’t want to be patient.” She knows what she wants and she wants it now, even against the doctor’s imploring that she isn’t yet ready. I am not very good at having patience and that makes it even harder to instill this quality in my daughter. She gets it honest; she, too, is impatient.
It is often said that “patience is a virtue” (and I do so hate that saying!), but in researching quotations to open this essay I found the one selected to be most appropriate for me. A virtue? The online American Heritage dictionary defines virtue as, “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.” So, we are to understand that having patience is to be morally excellent and righteous. Well, I agree with Mr. Burke: there comes a time when being patient is no longer of moral excellence.
The most recent case in point for your review was during my morning commute today (the result of which has me making this very post. See, I’m not even waiting until get home!). My morning drive in is about an hour. Traffic can be quite heavy, depending on timing, and I hate to be late. Today, I’m just a few minutes behind schedule, so as long as everything keeps moving, I’m happy. Then it happens: main road, three lanes wide and everyone driving at highway speed when, oh no!, it’s a police car on the shoulder with his lights flashing. Everyone drives at insane speeds until they get right up to where the cop is, and then they slam on their brakes and we drop from 70 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. For cying out loud, the cop already has someone pulled over! He isn’t going to suddenly jump into his cruiser and burn rubber to catch you, the one car in the pack of about 40 who are all traveling at the same speed! It’s an accident waiting to happen, and fortunately we pass the spectacle without incident. But, now I’m later than I was and my patience with idiot drivers has reached its end.
But wait, there’s more.
Now we’re past the cop, so everyone tromps on their accelerators to get back up to the speed we were before, except not everyone does so at the same time. Ahead of me, drivers less patient than I (if you can imagine that?) dive in and around slower cars which causes people to again slam on their brakes thus creating a massive, automobile inchworm, as we all accelerate and brake in undulating sequence. Each tap of the brakes increases my time lost and further depletes what little amount of patience I might have drawn up from the depths of my psyche. I completely understand, although I would never condone, road rage.
I want to get to work. I do not want to be late. I want to get off of this stupid highway and away from these morons. Like Sally, I don’t want to be patient.
Alas, it is the nature of my being. I have always been thus, and in spite of my efforts over the years, I will always be so. Really, I do try to be more patient and I would like to think that I do better on some days than others. And Lord knows that some days, my daughter severely tries my patience to the point where I wonder if I am her own personal schadenfreude.
Eventually, as I get older, I will have no choice but to slow down and accept things as they come to me. I will find that I am trying to go too fast and that I will miss things if I don’t slow down. I will learn how to temper myself.
Just be patient with me.
(Happy Birthday, Mom!)
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