STOP, LISTEN, (BREATHE) AND LEARN
Just when I thought I knew everything about this earth and its people, I received a nice little reminder that I still learn daily, from everyone from highly credentialed and respected scholars, through social media influencers* and even random people in the street.
I’m generally an impatient person. Whether it’s waiting in traffic, standing in front of a slowly boiling kettle, or watching the ‘content loading’ wheel on my phone; within a few seconds I start to think about how this hold up is impacting the timeline of all the events that are to follow, about better things I could be doing with my life, and the acute emotional pain this unnecessary delay is causing me. Unlike the not-that-much younger version of myself I now tend to (sort of) swallow the majority of these negative feelings, and fortunately have managed to form a habit of pressing pause in these moments. I don’t always succeed, but I’m usually thankful when I do.
Case in point: a little while ago I had to drive into the city for an event. Naturally parking was a nightmare, I was running late, the car was stuffy, and the stress levels were rising… I think you know the rest. Finally I spotted a parking garage with a handful of free spaces, only to find myself stuck behind another car, just sitting at the entrance gate blocking access. My instinct was to give them about three seconds to work out what their problem was, before following up with a blast of the horn, but instead I paused, took a breath, and waited.
Then I waited some more.
Followed by more waiting.
Finally, after what felt like forever (it was 30 seconds tops) the car in front started up, the driver pressed the button for a ticket, the boom was raised, and in they went. I followed quickly, still slightly miffed at the inexplicable delay, but also thankful that I had kept my cool. I glanced at my ticket as I slipped it in my wallet. It was time stamped at 5:00:10 PM – exactly 10 seconds past 5 o’clock. That’s when it hit me. The person in that car in front hadn’t been wasting everybody’s time dealing with some pointless personal crisis; they had been doing us all a favour.
I checked the signage and learned that, prior to 5pm, entry to that particular car park was at an exorbitant $28 per hour, after which they charged a flat rate of $7 for the rest of the evening. If I had entered any more than 10 seconds earlier, my impatience, sense of self-importance and ego would have cost me $28, plus taken a toll on my current level of karmic credits (low-ish already). Once I’d finished patting myself on the back for staying calm, I started thinking; do we suddenly lack patience in this digital everything, instant gratification, on-demand-at-the-touch-of-a-button world? Or are we just naturally impatient beings that have learned to cope with events that are out of our control?
I wish I could tell you the answer, but of the three studies I found on the internet that addressed this, one wouldn’t load fast enough, the other was far too long for me to read, and the last one was in another language.
I guess I’d already learned my one thing for that day.
* Just kidding, I always ignore social media influencers, they’re the pits!