When I was a kid I loved listening to The Music Machine record, over and over and over. And there’s one song that I still remember, a life lesson from Herbert the snail that I find myself singing in my head a lot these days:
“Have patience, have patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient
You only start to worry
Remember, remember that God is patient, too
Just think of all the times when others
Have to wait for you.”
Back home life moves a mile a minute, our culture tends to be built around speed of service. While there are some exceptions, on the whole, if food takes more than ten minutes to get to the table, we’re frustrated. If there is an accident on I-90 we don’t stop to wonder about the safety and well being of the injured, we are upset because that just added 20 minutes to our commute. If we’re on our way into work and someone stops to talk we are distracted and find a polite excuse to leave because we simply don’t have time. If the person at the front of the line takes to long, we get antsy and we will them to hurry up. Even if we have no where to be per say, we are constantly rushing to get to the next thing.
But here, I find I am slowing down and practicing patience daily. Meeting at 6:30 to go to Chaka Waka? How about we actually leave closer to 7. Pizza should be ready in 20 minutes? One beautiful sunset and three hours later the pizza finally makes an appearance. Going to the market and someone stops you for a chat? Plan on stopping (gasp, not a walk and talk) for a minute or two. Its only an hour drive from here? Maybe if there isn’t a rally or bad traffic, then maybe its more like two hours. Just want to check your Facebook real quick? In about two minutes when the internet loads you can see you have six notifications, allow one minute to load each one. Closing time at the café or ship shop? Add on two to five minutes for last minute shoppers.
You know what? I don’t really mind any of it. I think being in a culture that finds time to be relative and prioritize people not minutes helps a lot. Realizing there really isn’t anything you can do to speed it up and realizing that you gain so much when you slow down.
Waiting the extra 30 minutes to leave means more people can go and you meet a really great friend. Waiting three hours for your pizza means looking for shells on the beach and getting to watch the stars come out one by one. Stopping to talk to someone on the way to the market means you get the chance to really hear how someone is doing. Spending an extra hour in the car lends itself to some pretty great conversations. Waiting a minute or two to read a message from a friend, gives you the chance to be excited to read it. Staying open for an extra few minutes so someone can buy what they need to make a goodbye cake allows someone leaving to be blessed before they go.
Don’t worry though, I haven’t mastered this patience thing, my eye still twitches when someone gets to the front of the line and doesn’t know what drink they want to order.