Patience is a virtue we have often heard, and as all virtues go, it is not pure science so we cannot define its theories based on some generally accepted formula. Therein lies the problem because as noble as it is there are no clear-cut boundaries to tell what falls within the spectra of patience. What Miss A defines as patience might be seen by Mrs. B as stupid hesitation and Madam C might have a whole set of opinion miles apart from what the other ladies share.
So what is patience? How long does one have to wait for patience to evolve into the fear of starting over? When does patience tilt into basking in the sun of the status quo? Are there times patience is not about waiting? Can one-act swiftly, make split second decisions instead of floating with the tide and still be regarded as having a cup of patience? When is patience a medicine served in overdose?
There is this maxim about the patient dog eating the fattest bone, which originated from a story about a dog who waited for the main course while others scrambled after appetizers. But I wonder, what happened to the flesh? Dogs eat flesh too right? Could it be while Mr. Patient Dog was licking his lips in anticipation of the juiciest bones the forward and proactive dog was busy tearing out the flesh leaving behind the juicy bone it doesn’t value for the proverbial patient dog?
These questions hit me without mercy when I am meant to wait for something to happen. Being a Christian and a Nigerian, the gospel of patience have been shoved down my throat even when I am choking. It’s a weird irony of the Nigerian situation because Nigerians are patient people who do not like waiting. An average Nigerian despise being in a queue and would rather scramble her way through instead of falling in line but will patiently pray for things to get better. For the government and corruption to be an immiscible solution of water and oil, for the cheating abusive husband to change, for NEPA (these lots have changed names so often I no longer know what they are) to supply steady power and every other thing one shouldn’t have to wait for.
Also friends and family dish out loving advice and paint incredible anecdotes when you’re going through a phase. Biblical characters will be thrown quickly into the mix and real life examples will be added — they do not know if you’re preparing Egusi soup while the ingredients they provide is for Jollof rice — and that is a recipe for disaster. But can one blame them? Would one rather have folks who will ignite a situation about to burst into flame instead of finding ways to soothe the pain?
As long as there are words to ask them, the questions on when patience is no longer patience will keep flowing and the expertise required to finding the answers will be buried in further questions.
Can we then become patients of patience admitted into the ward of life by not flinching against all odds?
I recall an excerpt from a book I read in January, it is paraphrased herein “A dog was found sitting on a nail, it was wailing in pain but the owner sat on a chair nearby not caring. A passerby saw what was happening, was puzzled and he ask the owner about it. The owner merely shrugged and replied, ‘It doesn’t hurt enough yet’ the book is Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. After reading that, I asked myself, is that when patience finally snaps? When we can no longer bear the hurt, is that when patience should be thrown to the wind? Or is it when the pain drowns us that we should hold on more because therein lies the true test of patience?
On when to know when to stop being patient a friend said, “when it’s time, you will know.” I don’t know if that is the best answer to the patience-question, but I do know that answer itself raises further questions. And hopefully, after reading this, like me. When it’s time, you too will know because time apparently reveals all things.
NEPA : National Electric Power Authority, The Nigerian company responsible for power cuts and blackouts.
Egusi Soup : A Nigerian soup best served with Eba or Pounded Yam ( Because I have a thing against Fufu — and I have to stop here because explaining further will lead to using more words whose meaning I have to explain )
Jollof Rice : The self proclaim King of rice. A Nigerian party is not complete with it.