When Impatience Pays

“Impatience is the cardinal sin of youth.” ― M.T. Bass

I don’t know as I would necessarily call impatience a “sin”. A weakness, perhaps and, with youth, an understandable one. And, sometimes, with the not-so-young.

The Jedi Master, Yoda, obviously understood this weakness of the young when he said to his impetuous novice, Luke Skywalker, in George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), “Patience you must have my young padawan” when Luke was hell-bent on seeking revenge on Darth Vader for killing his family and bristled at the idea that he needed to first learn all he would need to know before he tried to do so.

I was reflecting on Yoda’s wisdom this past week in an on-going, daily-by-text messaging and phone call, discussion with a near-and-dear-to-my-heart fourteen year-old. He is an avid (and quite skilled) online gamer who is using an aged computer that barely allows him to be competitive. Last Saturday, as he was helping me work around the yard, we talked about his “needs”. He said he “needs” a new motherboard to house the better graphics card he has, he needs a faster processor, a larger disc drive, better/more cooling fans. He bemoaned the expense of a new pre-built system that he could never afford, even though I pay him to help around the yard, and there is nothing he could do at his age to make more.

I pointed out the lesser cost of building a system piecemeal himself, and that there is a lot of work around my place he can do and get paid to buy what he needs. I employed all the trite adages (Rome wasn’t built in a day; The longest book is written one word at a time; Life isn’t fair, if you want something you have to work for it; etc.), all interspersed with “Have patience!”

He just looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language.

And I realized, I was. I was speaking the language of a seventy year-old, with the understanding taught by experience over years. He hasn’t the experience. He hasn’t had the time to learn self-imposed patience. He’s only fourteen, for crying out loud. The only times he’s had to be patient was when it was forced on him by others who had the power to give or deny. And, at his age, there is nothing he can do about it. I felt for him.

His angst was palpable. I remembered how I felt at his age, when I wanted to do something and it felt like everything was in league to deny me my dream. As I took him home, I asked him what would be a starting point, what could he get – now – that would make at least a modest improvement over what he has now, that would add to his competitiveness. I told him to think about it.

Not to my surprise, he did (he’s one of those quiet, introspective types) – a couple of days later, he texted me that he’d thought about it and that a new keyboard, a mechanical gaming one, would increase the speed he needs to game faster. He’d done some research, found a good one he could afford, and with a “Oh, and I’ve made some more money by doing yard work for (the other grandparents)! With that and what you said you owe me, I can afford it. Will you order it for me? Pleeez?!” I was proud of him. Despite what he really wanted, he knew he couldn’t have it just now, but he could start on it. He did his research. And he found another way to help make it happen.

How could I say no? Instead of just whining and feeling sorry for himself, he listened, thought about it, worked it out, found a solution – even if only a partial one. A sign of growth. A hint of maturity.

And yes, I ordered it. And two days later when it came late in the evening, I called him it was here. His excitement was, as you can imagine, loud. Told him he could get it in four days (when he was due to come over and cut my grass again). “Can you bring it here, now? Please, please?!” His impatience, wanting immediate, instant gratification, was again manifest.

Yet, how could I say no? His enthusiasm infected me. And as a grandfather, it is in my job description to spoil my grandchildren. I immediately took it to him.

Because I, also, was impatient. Impatient, as always, to make him happy. Impatient, as always, to see joy in his face. Impatient, as always, to get the bone-breaking hug I knew I’d get, the love I’m given. And my impatience, as always, was rewarded as hoped for, just as his was. It’s a give-and-get thing, a symbiotic relationship between a grandparent and grandchild.

I don’t see impatience as always a bad thing. Or restricted to the young.

And if it be sin…then I guess I’m just damned. But I don’t give a damn.

Because I love the love it sometimes brings my way.

– Bill

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