Patience was once a virtue

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 Years ago when I needed to take a respite from a project or give myself some time alone I would get in my car and drive; driving was also a way to just get over it if I was upset about something; because driving forced me to focus on the immediate and most urgent requirements and veer away from whatever stresses occupied my mind. When I got behind the wheel I was fully aware of my responsibilities, for I was conscious of being in control of a powerful machine with dangerous and deadly potential (I am still). It did me good to keep my mind solely on the rules of the road and to drive responsibly and carefully. In those days for the most part my consideration and respect of other drivers was reciprocated. Not to say there wasn’t the occasional speed demon or rude driver to deal with. In fact I did have some harrowing experiences.  But it was a much rarer occurrence.  Even my father, who visited us from London in 1964 remarked, “Drivers in America are much more civilized than the English drivers. The English,” he said, “are civilized until they get behind the wheel of a car!”  If he were to witness driving practices here today he would certainly have to alter his opinion. For the fact is that now I don’t drive for the pleasure of it or for an escape from routine, or with the same sense of freedom and relative sense of safety as I once did.  Do you?   

Now-a-days drivers with whom I share the road are seldom concerned with my safety or even their own; too many people are driving too fast and literally furiously, with seriously dangerous impatience with anyone who is abiding by the rules of the road; so many seem to have no respect for the laws that are there for everyone’s safety. Even in parking lots I hear honking of horns as impatient people vie for spaces or to be let into the exit lanes. I have witnessed hostile altercations between people who feel their rights to speed and space supersedes anyone else’s. I don’t drive as much as my husband, Don, who often reports having experienced aggressive behavior toward him by people in parking lots and on the road because he wasn’t willing to speed or otherwise risk an accident to accommodate their impatience.  People while in their cars often act as if you are in their way, and let you know that with rude gestures. It makes me wonder what their behavior is like elsewhere.

Driving aggressively seems to be the norm today. I don’t know if the advertisements for fast and powerful cars( muscle cars they call them…more horse power the bette) promote this penchant for speed and irresponsible use of power, or is it  the other way around? Are people really demanding race cars to get them to and fro?

 I do know that impatience isn’t only a factor on the road, but in almost every life area.

 I am thinking how the speed of communication via the internet, cell phones and the fast paced images that flash constantly on TV and in the movies have resulted in the development of a kind of innate  tension, a sense of urgency that is causing people to keep their flight or fight responses on the ready in situations that certainly, from an objective point of view, are hardly threatening. Trying to push ahead of the line; to act as though a person who is a little slower in motion is getting in your way is so common, and has become and extreme stressor for all involved. The damage to our health and well being is a terrible price to pay for impatience.

 So I ask, what’s the hurry?

The answer seems to be that we have become so adjusted to our ability to accomplish things with a click of the mouse or a button, to reach another person in an instant that even a micro second extra wait seems like way too long for our purposes. Einstein’s theory of relativity applies here: It is all in our perception of time, how we measure it and  how we interpret and respond to events that is the issue here. Interpreation is  as much a choice as  any other human activity. Our perception of time seems have become distorted by  extrenal forces that  seem to dictate our life’s pace. Thus our impatience. Again, we can choose our own pace.

If we have become less patient, it is  also because immediate gratification of all our needs has become a mistaken priority; because of it we do not expect to wait. “Don’t wait!” the world of media  is saying in one way or another; so  there seems to be a demand to get it now, get it fast or miss something? Keep up with the times, stay with the flow, and don’t be left behind. When what we really need is to slow down.  We need to develop patience. For in spite of the technological advances and the inevitable increased speed  of  broad range communications, and more instant everything, it cannot and will not always live up to its promises.

 Settle down. Ask yourself, “How important is it in the whole scheme of things? What will happen if I don’t get it now?   What difference does a few seconds or even a few minutes make?  What’s’ the danger in slowing down, or waiting? What’s the worse thing that could happen? Is it more important than my well  being?”  A good example to prove my point is when a driver impatiently honks his horn and drives dangerously close, then swerves around you to pass, speeding towards the next traffic light; arriving a few cars ahead of you, stopped at the red light, just like you. Do you not smile and wonder what that was all about? 

 Well, it’s about impatience and all the issues related to it.

I long ago decided not to get caught up in the fast lane. Not that I don’t occasionally feel the need to speed things up. I check myself and ask the all important questions because I know impatience doesn’t just kill on the road; it wreaks havoc in our bodies, and in our lives.

When we were children waiting was a difficult endeavor. Our perception is time was relative to the time we has spent on earth; our ages.  Yet we were encouraged to wait patiently. As we matured we were supposed to have developed patience.  Patience was considered a virtue. Waiting has become common stressor because we have allowed it to be. We have a choice, you know.

So think about it. Pace yourself. You will live longer and the quality of your life will improve greatly.

Thanks for tuning in. TTFN and all the best to you, always , from Elaine Kissel

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