Sunday, June 3, 2012


Wisdom has long held that patience is a virtue.  As the saying goes, "All good things come to those who wait."  Yes, patience and waiting go together.  Unfortunately, the word "patience" may soon be listed in our dictionaries as archaic, no longer in use.

We live now in a world that gives highest priority to things that are "instant."  Waiting for anything is seen as annoying and out of sync with the way things should be.  When we hit the "on" switch for any of the electronic items we own, we expect immediate results.  Even a few seconds wait is intolerable.  This carries over to other aspects of our lives as well.

I asked the manager at one of our local supermarkets which is the bigger seller: traditional, long-cooking (relatively speaking that is) oatmeal or what is sold as instant oatmeal.  He answered that more instant oatmeal is sold.  What is the actual time difference between the two items?  Give or take, 5-7 minutes.  I asked the manager why he thought the instant oatmeal sold more.  Yup, his answer included the word "patience."  Why stand over a stove and wait for the old fashioned oats to cook when you can nuke the instant variety in a minute?  He added that "instant" varieties of just about every food type were big sellers--frozen waffles, pancakes and french toast, 'instant' mashed potato flakes, pre-cooked just about anything, frozen ready-cooked dinners etc..

Why are there more and more ready-prepared, take-home food outlets?  A whole lot of people with no patience for the slowness of having to cook food from start to finish at home.  Why are there more and more restaurants?  Same reason.

Even our language exhibits signs of the impatience that people feel today.  Texting and twittering capitalize on this impatience by "requiring" a foreshortened form of English.  And because that foreshortened English is so convenient, users look at standard English as somehow backwards and too oldfashioned to spend time in learning well.

It used to be that patience was a sign of maturity, of being a "grown up."  Little children were always asking "Are we there yet?!"  Adults were supposed to know better, to have developed patience.  Unfortunately, today it is both adults and children who whine "Are we there yet?!"

Watch some drivers at a red light and you see this impatience.  They are tapping the steering wheel, texting or speaking on their cellphones, eating a snack, talking to someone in the car, fiddling with the knobs on the dashboard and turning their head from side to side to see what is going on outside of the car, and sometimes all at the same time.

Look at some of the "rules" in place for shidduch dating and you see impatience perfectly illustrated.  By the fifth or sixth date a couple is either engaged or they are over.  Some of those involved in making shidduchim have even foreshortened this time requirement.  For them, if you don't know for sure that a prospective shidduch is going somewhere by the the third or fourth date, it's over.  And some of this shidduch impatience also applies to how long any individual date may last for.  Most of the "laws" I've seen say a maximum of two hours for a date.  When I read that requirement I really laughed.  Here in NY, getting from a point in one part of the city to a point in another part can easily take you one hour in each direction.  So basically dating couples don't need to go anywhere but just spend the time inside of a car?  Impatience personified.

Yes, I know that today's world also presents us with a lot more to do in those few hours of the day there are to do them.  Yes, I know that lots of people are multi-tasking inundated.  Yes, there may be certain situations where patience is just not possible.  But those same situations are made worse when we don't have the patience to deal with them.

When I mentioned the idea for this posting to someone, they countered with a different old saying: "The race goes to the swift." Patience is an impediment in getting to where you have to go.  A different old saying by Aesop came to the rescue: "Slow and steady wins the race."  But hey, don't take my word for it--read what some others have said about the value of patience.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~John Quincy Adams

How poor are they that have not patience!

What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
~William Shakespeare, Othello, 1604

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. 
~Dutch Proverb

Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.
~George-Louis de Buffon

One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. ~Chinese Proverb

He that can have PATIENCE can have what he will.
~Benjamin Franklin

It is not necessary for all men to be great in action. The greatest and sublimest power is often simple patience.
~Horace Bushnell

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.
~Cato the Elder

To end off, let me repeat what many a parent has spoken to their children:  Rome wasn't built in a day.


Anonymous said...

Whether you think it's a good thing or not, a lot of families are busier than in the past. Mothers and fathers both work full time, and I do not have an extra 5-7 minutes in the morning to stir a pot of oatmeal. Want to go back to the 1950s when fathers were breadwinners and mothers were June Cleaver? Even if you do, how do you propose we get there? It's not always a matter of impatience.

Miami Al said...

BS, the average American spends around 35-40 hours/week watching television. Even amongst the younger, where web browsing and social media are replacing some of that time, there is tons of time wasting.

Going to bed 5 minutes earlier, starting your day 5 minutes earlier, and making rolled oats is not a huge commitment.

The bigger thing is, you need to measure the oats, measure the water, stir, then serve into bowls. With instant, you just put the packet in the bowl and add instant hot water from a water dispense or a tank in the house, or add water and stick in the microwave.

Instant removes process.

Also, the instant oatmeal tastes "better" because it is loaded with syrup and high fructose corn syrup, you'd have to flavor your own rolled oats.

Are we busier? Definitely, but we also waste a TON of time.