Patience (n.): the calm endurance of pain of any provocation; perseverance; forbearance; quiet and self-possessed waiting for something.”
Okay, that’s nice, but are we there yet?
Patience is a virtue, so the saying goes, but I disagree. Yes, it’s possible to have the patience of a saint, but it’s also possible to have the patience of the devil. Many crimes and abuses have been committed by people patient enough to wait, preparing all the while to strike. Aggressors against others are often very, very patient. For the victims of those aggressive or oppressive acts there is more wisdom than virtue in ensuring your survival by keeping your head below the parapet and biding your time. Patience is a strategy, a behaviour, a matter of judgement, of choice-in-circumstance. Just as courage is called out only in the existence of fear, patience comes into existence in the presence of, and in response to, impatience. It requires the exercise of personal restraint and impulse control in the service of a greater end goal, and it may feel entirely counter-intuitive in the moment. I hesitate to disagree with my trusty Collins Dictionary, but it may not feel anything like “calm endurance” or “quiet and self-possessed waiting.” Yes, the patient person waits, but it’s an active state involving paying attention, reflecting, planning. Patience isn’t a thing. It’s a capacity, an attitude. It’s an ongoing recallibration of approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a work in progress, a practice, an art.
Yes, yes, so you say, but are we there yet?