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My mother would describe me as impatient. I would describe myself as spirited. Just two days ago she said words to the effect of
‘remember Gabrielle, patience is a virtue!’. Upon hearing this, I sighed and felt impatient. What followed was the arrival of rebellious, defiant and grumpy thoughts- what’s so good about patience anyway? Surely there are reasons some of us tend towards the quick, easily excitable and agitated? If logic prevails, seemingly negative characteristics must have their pluses as well as their disadvantages? Impatience, as an example, may lead to a whole array of brilliance: a nonacceptance of the ridiculous, innovation, creativity, vision, efficiency, spontaneity. Not plainly plodding along in conformity and routines, accepting all that comes our way. Evolutionary speaking, making sure you’re fed when hungry (I’m particularly impatient when hungry) equaled survival. So maybe patience has a bad reputation. Maybe there are times for impatience, happenstance, passion, life unplanned, I want it now, I want it yesterday, come on, hurry up, allez-allez-vite-vite! Tell me, am I the only so impatiently inclined? Doubtful. This fast food, fast love, techno-revolution quick communication culture we live in encourages urgency and impatience. Consider how long it look to pen, envelope, stamp, send and receive a letter compared to the time it takes to send an email. It is in many ways that the pace of life has changed. Yet, it still takes nine months for a baby to gestate and perhaps the
natural pace of things has its purpose. In my heart, I know, as almost always: my mum was right. (Sigh.) I know that if I hadn’t had any patience, I would not have achieved many of the things that count. This could be the perseverance to muddle through French administration as a Brit living in France, completing a masters, maintaining long-term important relationships. Not to mention learning languages, to play a musical instrument or just the satisfaction hovering over the cooker smelling the scintillating flavours of a slow-cooked meal. Ummm… For patience and perseverance are much entwined. Whatever you are patient with, you persevere with and invest in (be it your children/your partner/your education/your home/your finances and so on). And sometimes you need to hold on when all you wanna do is give up and lie down. This holding on is about trusting that if you continue, though it may be tough, it will be worth it. It’s a process, steps along a path, a home is built brick by brick. It’s easy to lose sight of this in a culture that little recognises that life brings both ups and downs and that some things cannot happen overnight or at the click of a button (whether we like it or not).
Investments require the ability to think long-term, with droplet of faith. There is also a beauty and grace in slowness and patience. An unfolding. A subtlety. Watching the peaches ripen. I think of rituals and Japanese tea, the care, the sweet precision. Sometimes, there can be a delicious delicacy
in taking your time. So, listen to your mum, or my mum or Shakespeare for that matter:
‘Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast’*, patience is indeed (most of the time) a virtue (sigh). Accepting that some things just take time is a lesson well-worth learning. So, take a breath, count to ten and hold on. Who knows then, which possibilities lay out there and yonder in the spaces between the slowness.
*Romeo and Juliet