Is patience really a virtue?

Patience my ass.jpg

I know how dangerous impatience can be. But I'm not so sure patience is a virtue.

I'm so impatient I break things I try to fix. I've injured myself trying to practice yoga asanas I wasn't ready for. My body and my psyche have both been damaged trying to find a shortcut to kissing bliss.

The two vultures cartoon dates from 1973 and was, I'm told, a product of the Vietnam War. Perhaps that's gives it so much of its ghoulish power. We get the feeling that the vulture's impatience is going to get his ass killed.

When we're talking about finding enlightenment, I'm with Kerouac who said "Walking on water wasn't built in a day." 

It was his response to the idea of using psychedelics or sacred plants to be illuminated faster. The funny thing is he was tripping when he said it.

Impatience can also mean we don't take the time to question. We want what we want in seconds. We'd rather read and write Instagram gratitude platitudes than really ponder profundity. We think nuance is an aftershave.

Triggered by hyper-heated techno-capitalism or our own failure to respect other people, impatience is most certainly not a virtue.

For those of us who write, being impatient can mean we settle for something we know isn't as good as it could be.

This may be just about OK when we're writing to a screaming deadline. But if we're writing for ourselves, being patient might mean the difference between acceptable and perfect.

But when patience is used as a form of control, I ain't so sure.

We want the world and we want!

When I first got into yoga, abstaining from judgement, being out in that field beyond right and wrong with old Rumi, was where it was at.

And learning - or at least attempting - to be patient was certainly good for me. I stuck with my practice. I developed the willingness to sit and surrender. I stopped making kneejerk judgements (or I try). I'm a better person because of that.

But I also think the idea of patience as a virtue arose out of the use of religion as a control mechanism: Be patient and accept your crappy position in this lifetime and you'll get your reward in heaven or when you stop being reborn sometime in the very, very distant future. 


I'd say that this is a time when we need to start being impatient. In a good way.

David Holzer