Friday, 11 March 2011

Setting the sliders VII: Patience and impatience

"Patience is a virtue, patience is a grace..." the old saying went. Impatience - I see it every day. The impatience of the Alpha males that drive our economies, impatient for short-term profits, willing to take risks, to shatter other people's lives, because they want to hit those goals in this quarter rather than next year. Greed and impatience go hand in glove. The impatience of drivers similarly taking risks with their own lives and those of others because they're in a hurry to get to their destination.

The impatience of the young is balance by the patience that comes with maturity, ironic that; one has more time when one has less time left. Older people can more accurately attribute the correct time horizons to things that need to be done. Younger people have a biological inability to think long-term. "We want the world and we want it... NOW!" bellowed Jim Morrison in The Doors' When The Music's Over. How right that sentiment felt when I first heard those words many decades ago. How foolish they sound now.

Yet patience can often be a mask for inaction. Procrastination. Putting off until tomorrow what you can do today. Is patience a euphemism for fatalism? "Mañana, mañana" never gets you anywhere. But is there something to be said for letting nature take its own course?

Patience - waiting for something rather than striving for immediate gratification - has its rewards when its considered; when awareness is applied to a situation, when options are thought through. Simply waiting in inactivity is not enough.

So where to put that slider - well, I for one would put it just slightly more towards 'patience' than 'impatience'; I wonder whether this is one that would be slid progressively towards the left as one gets older?

"We have all the time in the world," sang Louis Armstrong; two years later he was dead. Yet Hal David's lyrics, John Barry's music would not have sounded convincing sung by a younger vocalist.

This time last year:
Commuters' staging post

This time three years ago:
Return of the migrating geese

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