Pete Davison: Patience is a Virtue

Posted on May 15, 2011 by

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I’ve often been complimented on what is possibly my best virtue — my patience. I’ve developed this over many long and arduous years, and I attribute my possession of it as a virtue to two things in particular: video games and music.

Music’s contribution is obviously (possibly) from the amount of practice necessary to get to a good stage with your instrument playing, composition, singing or whatever. While I don’t do as much practice as I did when I was growing up — no exams or anything to aim for at the moment, for one thing — I can still sit down and actually work on something until I get it right if necessary. Sure, it might be frustrating for anyone sitting nearby to listen to the same few bars over and over at gradually-increasing tempi, but that’s why God invented electric pianos and headphones.

Video games’ contribution is, interestingly, almost the exact same reason — practice. I was playing my evergreen favourite game Trackmania United earlier today and it occurred to me that I was quite happy to sit there and repeatedly attempt each level until I got a result with which I was satisfied. It helps, of course, that Trackmania carries little to no penalty to failure, much like the notorious Super Meat Boy. Hit the “restart” button and, unlike many racing games out there, you’re immediately back on the start line, ready to go. The fact it’s so easy to restart and try again makes the whole thing a lot more conducive to repeated attempts. And the more repeated attempts you make without your head exploding or a string of expletives erupting forth from your mouth, the more your patience builds up.

Patience has come in useful in many life situations. When I worked as a teacher, I had to make use of it pretty much every day as the more unpleasant children out there have a habit of trying to “push” their teachers as far as possible until they snap. Sure, I did “snap” once or twice, including the time that drove me out of secondary teaching for good and left me on sick leave for over six weeks — I’m only human, after all — but for the most part, I managed to maintain composure even in the face of extreme adversity — including one time when a 14-year old kid threatened to knife me because I’d asked him (politely) to stop talking. Nice, huh?

It’s not just teaching where patience comes in useful, though. Waiting in a post office queue is a situation that practically demands patience (and judging by the amount of tutting and sighing that generally goes on in such a queue, not many people have taken the time to hone their skills) and so is attempting to explain to an elderly person how to use a computer. And there are many more situations in which it becomes useful. Mostly, though, if you’re patient about things, when the thing you’ve been patiently waiting for finally comes along, it’s worth the wait because you haven’t got yourself all wound up beforehand.

So chill out, relax, have a juice. That thing you’re waiting for is just around the corner. (Unless it’s a taxi, in which case you all know what “just around the corner” really means.)

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Posted in: Pete Davison