Wednesday, March 2, 2011


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

This morning I had to  $20 onto my Metrocard, and when I got upstairs, there was a couple people in line.  The token booth clerk was doing some kind of record-keeping and very politely asking everyone to be a little patient.  He happens to be one of the nicer ones, one who does his work and not spend his time chatting on the phone or reading the newspaper while customers are waiting, so it is easy to be patient for him.  Besides, when I know I have to re-up my card, I always leave a little earlier, so I quietly took my place between Customer number two.  Barely a minute passes before another customer appears in line behind me.  

This lady was clearly annoyed by the waiting.   Her body language was a loud message of impatience, anxiety, and annoyance as she shifted her weight from foot to toot, bouncedon her heels, and began muttering under her breath.   Mind you now, barely a minute or two has passed, and it wasn't as if the last train was coming.  In fact, during rush hour, trains come so quickly that I've learned to allow a crowded car pass for right behind it will be an empty one.  In another minute or so, the clerk is finished with his administrative chores, and as he begins to service Customer number one, he offers his apologies to the four of us.  

The clerk added the twenty onto my card and handed it back.  I proceeded  through the gates and sat on the bench for a moment while I slid the card into my wallet.  I heard a train pulling in, but  I was not going to make a run for it.  Can't do that anymore, and besides, it is just not worth it.   It is then that I happen to notice that the impatient lady is also there, and she is not running for the train either.  No, she is chatting away and giggling on her cell phone.  I am totally at a loss for that one.  Why get yourself all worked up over a train you never planned on catching in the first place?

Instant gratification.  We want what we want when we want it.  In life, we have become a society who expects the instant in everything, anytime, any place, and from anyone. Next time you are standing in line, take a moment look around at those who are waiting with you.  Watch their faces.  They've all got that look on their face that says, Come on, hurry it up some. Do you expect me to wait all day?  Patience is supposed to be a virtue. We are supposed to be patient. And yet, we as a society, are plagued by impatience. In this day and age,  instant gratification is what we are all looking for.  

I remember back in the day when we had a party line, and I had to wait my turn to make a phone call.  Now, in the age of technology, we pull out our phones and chat while walking down the street and get annoyed when we are forwarded to a voice mail.  We are always in such a hurry.   And what does it really get us?  Stress, hypertension, heart disease, angry outbursts...all related to our need for instant gratification.  We just don't want to have to wait. This could apply to anything...our material possessions, jobs, opportunities, relationships, etc.   Patience is something we have to learn, and it is often only learned through trial, pain, and failure.

Don't get me wrong.   I haven't always been good at waiting.  There was a time a few years back that I could stress myself out with the best of them, but I seem have mellowed with age.  I am just not in such a hurry anymore. I have also learned that glancing at my watch, over and over again, while cursing  the delayed train will not make it come any faster. In fact, it actually makes it appear to be slower.  And sometimes, when we are rudely impatient, a vengeful cashier, clerk etc. may make us wait even longer. And, I am not going to lie, on those rare occasions that I do find myself running late and standing in a line that doesn't seem to move, I can still feel my impatience level rising. 

I have also learned that when it comes to waiting in a long slow moving line, how I feel is all up to me.  I can choose wait impatiently and become frustrated and grouchy; then, I can by assured that by the time I am finally through that line, I will be in a bad mood.  Or, on the other hand, I can take a deep breath and use this time to look at the situation realistically.  Is it really something to lose my patience over and ruin my day, or is it just because things are not going as I had planned?

Try this little exercise that a long, long time ago a very wise person suggested I try;  The next time you find  yourself in a line reflect on the things that you are grateful for.  We all have so much to be thankful for. And, as you wait in this line, try spending the time being grateful...being grateful that you have the money to buy that quart of milk you are waiting in line for or that you have a job that you need a metrocard to travel to.  Think of those who aren't standing in this line, those who have no money to put food on the table or those who spend their nights sleeping in a cardboard box...those who would appreciate being able to stand in this line.  

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

Chinese Proverb


  1. I'm old enough to remember party lines too, LOL!

  2. oh life is far too short to stress out we need to take time out and smell the roses :) great post x x

  3. Oh yes, we have become a very now-now-now society.

  4. lovely post... I have learned an aggrivated spirit does nothing for making anything go any faster..It is best to just wait til it happens which it eventually will and I will be much calmer for it.

    Yet I am with you in regards to those with such a need to being pleased the moment they wish to be.... What would some do if things were to change.... So many would be so lost.... total chaos for some I think...

    Blessings to your patient ways...

  5. I am learning to slow down.. takes a long time..but we will get there! xo

  6. .....don't I love it when a car speeds past me and is stopped at a red light right in front of me. ( my front bumper near their back bumper ) ;0)
    Just don't get me going on me waiting in a long line and one cashier working , when suddenly another comes to her/his register and says "can I help someone"...INSTEAD of " Can I help the next person in line."
    That's my Pet Peeve, BUT I get over it. :0)

  7. Great post dear well said..."Patience truly is a virtue".

    Stay well,


  8. Hello there Mary--Lovely post. I was given some words of wisdom once similar though put this way. Trains--Trains and that everything happens for a reason. Maybe that train is there because it is holding me up from getting to where I'm going in my time, but maybe it's also preventing me from getting into an accident or some other unfortunate situation that was not forseeable. So now every time I have to stop for a train--this is the mindset I have learned to put myself into as not to start cursing the train. Great Post as always~

  9. I love the fact that Grace presents itself to us as we grow in wisdom. When I was younger I too would sometimes grow impatient. The older I get the more I know deep within, the waiting is just as special as the doing.

    Such a Wise Woman You Are Mary!
    Thank You for a special sharing!

  10. Lovely to have found your site! I've found that gratitude is the fastest way to shift any energy - both within me and outside of me. Looking forward to reading more of you here :)