Patience is an almost forgotten quality. As people push to the front of the line or treat the roads like their own personal drag racing track, cutting off anyone that may be doing the speed limit, or you are just simply in their way. But it is part of our culture to line up and wait your turn. Other cultures have different standards and they accept that. So why is there so much anxiety just below the surface. The need to be right and the need to get your own way are on the increase as people absorb the tremendous stressors that plague our society.
Take for example in South Korea. It was a real culture shock as I was buying a ticket for the subway. There are no lines and I was shoved away from the front as hordes of people just kept pushing in at the ticket counter. But this worked perfectly for them, the pushing and shoving was just what they have always done. I remember when I was a flight attendant and I used to do many flights to and from South Korea. After we had landed and were taxiing to the terminal, the slightest delay and the Korean passengers were up and out of their seats, pushing and shoving towards the front door, well before the seat belt sign was turned off. But this was just their way.
The Japanese are famous for their packed trains and crowds. If you have experienced Tokyo, you would know what I am talking about. They are the complete opposite of the Koreans, yet the countries are so close. It is not uncommon to see the lines waiting for the trains wind off the platform and onto the street. Everybody in unison patiently waiting for their turn to board the train. Then when it comes to actually getting onto the train, every morsel of space is taken up as the people apply a firm pressure to the backs of the person in front of them ensuring that they do not miss the train. Even the air in the lungs takes up room and is pushed out as the mass gently jostles for space. There is no anger, no aggression, this is just the way it is.
We live in a time now whereby any information that you need is at your fingertips. The search field on your phone, tablet or computer is an information “super highway” to whatever you need or want, right now. Books, music and anything that you can think of is just a tap away. I was working at my desk the other day and I noticed the windows really needed cleaning. I googled how to clean windows on you tube and was instantly educated on the best methods. I have recently taken up drawing. I have been taking tutorials online. I do not need to wait as everything I need is a click away.
But is this better? I remember when I came back from living in Japan in 1992, the computer was just in its infancy and the first analogue mobile phones were still the size of a large brick. We lived in an age of phones in our homes, I remember my home phone number from when I was a boy; 48 1190. If we needed to contact some one and we were out, the only choice was a phone booth. These were mostly no use as they were invariably vandalised, or they just ate your 10 and 20c coins, if you had them. But we made do. We went to library’s, wrote letters, sent postcards and did all of our finances in paper ledgers that we purchased from newsagents. The newspapers were thick and juicy. What a different time.
So, enter the digital world. Many of us have done away with the home phone and now have connection to the internet in several ways. Furthermore, most of our social connections are through social media, and I think that most people would be lost without it. The mobile phone is becoming our constant companion, it is no longer strange to see 3 or 4 people sitting together in a coffee shop or restaurant, totally engrossed in the screen in front of them. They call that socialising.
There is now a side effect of this new and somewhat evolved way of living. There is a certain anxiety or is it just frustration for people that expect this immediate satisfaction to just roll over into every aspect of life. I want it, and I want it now and you had better deliver or I will give you a serving that you will not forget. It takes strength to hold your line and be resolute in what you believe in. Let’s face it, there may be a better way of doing things, but at the moment, things are working for you, in your private life, your work or your business, so why change.
I was at the front line of customer service for 16 years. Working the “red eye” shift on a flight was the main way the Australian airlines fly in and out of Sydney. The passengers would get on board, mostly stressed and put out. I found it hard to fathom just how grumpy the passengers were, considering most of them were heading overseas on vacation. You quickly gave them a couple of drinks, a meal then they are bed down for the night. Funny thing is though, they are still there in the morning, even grumpier. I saw this happening time and time again over many years, and I came to the conclusion that the average person just exists. They have fleeting highs and lows but for the most part just live in silent suffering.
The frustration of people that do not get what they want is a symptom of an unhappy, un-evolved society. My staff and I at Northstar see it constantly. For example, we have certain conditions in our membership that sometimes people just do not like. Rather than just say that the conditions do not suit them and move on, the same people will attempt to tell us how their Northstar membership will work. They are absolutely gobsmacked when we refuse, and it appears that they are not going to get their way. No doubt that parents want the best for their children and will do whatever it takes, but in many instances, I think that it is not about the kids, it is about the parents. What is the answer? I really do not know but until we can sit in a space and start to observe our thoughts, emotions and behavior, people will not change.
During my 20’s and 30’s, I used to function at a million miles per hour. I was hectic, always rushing and impatient. It was a symptom of working too hard and taking too much on. I used to have a saying; “the entire world is on go slow drugs.” I continued this pace for many years. It is ironic that Parkinson’s Disease effects motor function and slows down movement. I have often thought that the challenges that we are forced to face in life are instrumental in our personal evolution. I can see this in the bigger scheme of things, but it is a heck of a way to learn a lesson.