Many years ago when I was a college student, I went to visit a friend who lived in exurban Connecticut. My friend was the third of that name and was so called “Buddy,” the other names having been used on the first and second holders of the name. His father was an attorney handling business law, and quite successful. However, Buddy’s dad had what some people would call a character defect– impatience. This was especially a problem for him while driving, so his solution was to have a big Cadillac limo and a hired driver whose task it would be to drive like a demon, to satisfy Buddy’s dad’s impatience without the dad having to be the one getting the speeding ticket. That was Buddy’s summer job. I went on a trip with them in the front seat and indeed, Buddy drove like a demon. On another trip in the family car going to pick up his girlfriend from work, Buddy drove in a calm and relaxed manner.
One day during the visit, it was Buddy’s job to drive with his father and some of the father’s friends into New York City to go to the races and then to dinner and for some drinks. I rode along in the front seat. After dinner, Buddy and I went to see the movie Siddhartha, based on Herman Hesse’s novel, while Buddy’s dad & friends had a couple of cocktails. We were to pick them up after the movie. It was a beautiful film, shot on location in Northern India, all about the life of Siddhartha and how he ultimately found peace (Read the book or watch the movie. The book is always better than the movie, of course).
We came out feeling peaceful and relaxed ourselves, and picked up Buddy’s dad & friends to go back to Connecticut. We got onto FDR Drive North and were immediately stuck in stop-and-go (mostly stopped) traffic. Per his job duties, Buddy changed lanes repeatedly, trying to get ahead, but after about twenty minutes we could both see that we were surrounded by the same six or eight cars that had always been there. Buddy did what many people would do in his place. He changed strategies, sitting in one lane to see if it perhaps would ultimately go faster than the other lanes. If not, he hadn’t been getting anywhere anyway, so why not just wait it out?
During the twenty minutes of repeatedly lane changes, Buddy’s dad had been sitting in the back of the limo, talking with his friends. After a few minutes of no lane changes, he ran down the glass partition between the back & front of the limo.
“What are you doing?” he inquired, somewhat peevishly.
Nettled, but also still remembering the movie and Siddhartha’s success at finding peace Buddy replied, “I’m waiting.”
This was the trigger for a verbal tirade from Buddy’s dad, with the punchline, “That’s not doing anything!” Up went the glass partition for the remainder of the ride.
Thus was it shown that waiting is doing something, and that Buddy could do it while his father could not.
Lately we all have been doing a lot of waiting. Patience is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Some days we may do it better than others. That’s life. But you can do it. Remember to also practice self-compassion. Keep well.
Photo by the author: San Mateo County coast, south of Half Moon Bay looking north.