Notes on Patience

I’ve never been a patient person. I just do not like waiting. I really couldn’t tell you why, and if you were to ask me, I’d probably tell you something silly and cliché like “I value my time” or “I don’t like being disrespected.” However, I’m beginning to realize that my impatience is deeper than either of those things. In fact, I’d be lying to you if I told you any of that. There is something psychological and spiritual within both me and the society in which I live that has caused this impatience to intensify.

They say patience is a virtue. It certainly is. Patience shows an unbelievable amount of maturity and self-control, especially in this information-driven society where everything and anything is available instantly. It’s no wonder that most of the World’s major religions and philosophies talk about the importance of practicing patience. Displaying patience enables one to improve in various other avenues of their lives. For the past week or so, I have been a bit irritable. I have deliberately avoided people, and I get aggravated as soon as someone calls my name at home.

This stems mainly from the fact that I’m looking for internships, which I need in order to graduate. This is where patience begins to wear thin. How long are people supposed to wait for things? When you want something that is important to you, how do you just wait for it? These are questions that I struggle with as an individual, and they become essential ones when patience is examined on the social level.

Patience is often used as an excuse to maintain unequal social conditions. For example, Black folks here in America are often expected to be patient in demanding “equality.” Likewise, other marginalized groups such as women and LGBT folks are expected to be patient in the face of a society that is completely violent towards them. My impatience, especially as of late, has been in relation to the social conditions in the world.

I was deeply moved by an interview I saw on Facebook. The interview aired I believe in the sixties, and the person being interviewed was a woman named Martha Davis. She was an activist in Harlem who created clinics for young drug addicts in the neighborhood. Her work was difficult, and she often ran into obstacles when it came to finding space to help addicts. She, along with a group of people, seized two abandoned floors of Harlem Hospital and converted it into a drug clinic.

In her own words, she was “tired of watching her people die.” This is exactly how I feel, right now, as I am writing this piece. I am tired of watching my people die. We are dying physically, mentally, spiritually, academically, and otherwise. I want to use my talents to do something about it, and the truth is, I don’t even know where to start. This impatience, coupled with this helplessness and hopelessness, is why I have been so angry as of late.

However, I would be a liar if I were to tell you that this is the only source of my impatience. I am impatient for selfish reasons as well, and this is where my impatience becomes problematic. I am impatient with people who do not reciprocate my affection; I am impatient with people who “waste my time,” as if my time is the only time that is valuable. As if, I do not have duties to my friends and family that should supersede whatever time I have to myself.

The time that I have to myself is very important, but why should it be at the detriment to people who require my time? Who require me to assist them in some way? This aspect of my impatience has been a problem in own personal life. It has cost me dearly in terms of my relationships and spiritual life. However, the impatience with this corrupt society is certainly justified, and I hope to act on this impatience in creative and constructive ways. My New Years’ resolution, if it’s not too late to call it this, is to come to terms with this impatience and work on it.

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