Bane of Today by Subhadra Jayaraman

Waiting good-naturedly to be served at a restaurant. Eating a course of antibiotics for seven days to get rid of an infection. Pausing to think before jumping to conclusions. Patience is a virtue. One that is evaporating as rapidly as mist under sunlight. That, in my opinion, is the bane of today. Instant gratification. The need for results right now, immediately. The tapping of impatient feet, the coveted glances at the time, the silent groans of exasperation – these have become our everyday habits, slowly erasing our previously virtuous selves, and turning them into a blurry medley of haste.

We live in the age of speed. Only the age of speed is actually the age of excess. And also, the age of improvement. And don’t forget the age of technology. As we live at the cusp of groundbreaking innovations and mind-bending rapidity, we behold that everything we need and more is merely one click away. Gone are the days where we used to wait for a letter with gleeful anticipation, skipping to the doorstep every time the mailman came by. Today we need an answer right away, preferably in shorthand. Remember when we used to discuss the next movie for months before it released and plan for weeks to watch it together with friends? These days, if it’s not on Netflix, it’s not worth waiting for. There was a time when we used to make a road trip to go street shopping and pick and choose and heckle and bargain to buy earrings and sandals. Today, if there is no next day delivery, why would we even bother? And once, we used to nurse a sore throat for a few days, sit back, relax, drink warm soup, snuggle into our blankets. But we don’t have time for that today, we really need the sore throat to please be mindful and leave instantly. Eight pills should do it.

There are obvious and important advantages of this flavorful, exuberant new lifestyle we have adopted. Safety is a call away, emergency is efficiently handled, cash is a few buttons away, dinner is a thumb tap away, and accessibility is just round the corner. Especially in times of a pandemic such as the COVID-19, this accessibility is extremely useful for a myriad of reasons – there is no need for people contact, delivery at the safety of your sanitized home, help is available when needed. But the truth is, convenience has overtaken hard work, attention to detail, and common sense. We exercise and expect to see six pack abs when we wake up, but when our paunch stares back at us from the mirror, we lose all hope, and binge eat the tub of ice-cream that was thankfully available for same day delivery. We love being impromptu, we romanticize instinctiveness, and so we need that summer dress and picnic basket right away, also the rental car and the book we planned to read on the beach. What we should normally have planned and spared thought to, is now a phenomenon that takes mere minutes. Click, click, swipe, fingerprint. Your order will arrive tomorrow.

What we fail to understand is that life does not work that way. We want to move a speed far greater than what the wheels are made for, and the outcome will be a tired, creaky, inefficient machine that groans, and one fateful day, gives up entirely. Fallacies of today have quick fixes, thanks to the cult that the impatient among us have started. You were stupid enough to drink your cranium off the night before a meeting? Pop a few pills so you can have a hangover-free experience, and also feel free to do it as many times as you need. Only you’ll find out your kidneys failed too, because your liver felt bad failing alone. But, unfortunately, not all of the outcomes are immediate or personal, which makes it hard for the point to get across through thick skulls and impatient minds. Waited far too long to buy a sweater and it’s winter already? Don’t worry, there are thousands of Filipino kids making sweaters by the thousand every day, just to make up for your forgetfulness. The kids understand that having meetings everyday from air conditioned rooms can be very tiring and makes one forgetful.

It is time to take a long stride back, think, and then do what you are about to do. Would you send that text if it were a letter? Do you really need that book tomorrow? Is that presentation more important than your health? Is it fair to expect biceps to pop out when you’ve lifted but a feather? It is time we relearn to wait. Because patience is a virtue. 

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