We have already waited too long. And for many, all their hopes are gone. We have gone home, and we have cried. For most of us, 2020 has felt like being trapped endlessly in a song of The Smiths—a bitter one. We are tired and want COVID-19 gone from our lives. We yearn for freedom. We want things to be like it were. But at every passing day, the light at the end of the tunnel seems static, not even getting closer by an inch. It keeps pushing away as each breath of hope extinguishes in the cold winter air.
“We need to wait” is the sole answer given by scientists and governments alike. Wait for the vaccine to be ready. Wait for the herd immunity to be achieved. Or for some, to wait for the disease to magically disappear of our lives.
Unfortunately for us, living on this day and age, we are not accustomed to wait. Our rushing lives and the instant gratification provided by social networks have created a generation of impatient individuals. We place patience outside of our list of desired abilities to gain.
There is a quote that reads: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting,” and I think that is what we need to have right now, a good attitude towards our predicaments. In our situation, perspective can be everything. We need to shift our focus away from what is not in our control, like stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who fought for 15 years the Antonine Plague said, “the impediment of action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way.” Or like in the maxim of Buddhism, we should take this challenge as a teacher, that is here for help us to cultivate our patience.
One thing is for sure, human race is at war with a microscopic virus, and like Mahatma Gandhi said, “To lose patience is to lose the battle,” or in the words of the Chinese proverb, “One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” So, today more than ever, we need to cultivate our patience as human beings and be comprehensive with those who lose it. Confrontation in these uncertain times will lead only to chaos.
Let us teach ourselves to overcome by breathing slowly, to tackle minute by minute, day by day, until we have cleared the dark clouding the blue skies. And if we accomplish it, we will come out from this predicament happy, not for leaving everything behind but of knowing that when misfortune knocks on our door again, we will be wiser enough to know that misery is transient, and all we must do is being patient, because in the words of Plato, “Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.”
I hope we use these times of Christmas celebration to share words of encouragement among our friends and relatives, along with our good wishes. And even if we can’t be physically reunited, take this occasion to reward ourselves and the others with the special present of the virtue of patience, because as the Swahili proverb says, “patience brings near that which is far.”
I wish you all a Patient Merry Christmas and a Persevering New Year.
M. Ch. Landa