Wait for it

I’ve noticed a trend over the past week or two when I go to put out the buffet for the raccoons, possums, et al.

There is a genuine increase in the gathering that occurs, waiting for my arrival. I first noticed it a while back with the birds. Cardinals set the pattern first.

On evenings when I was a few minutes late, I would often get a cardinal up near the kitchen window looking in at me while I was getting the dishes ready and he would chirp at me through the glass. It was a definite “you’re late” chirp and I felt the pressure.

Over the subsequent weeks, they were joined by blue jays and squirrels, occasionally at the window but mostly just sitting patiently in the trees near where I set out the first stage of food and throw the bread.

On a typical evening there are five or six cardinals, two blue jays, a few smaller little birds, and a couple of squirrels … all waiting patiently for my arrival.

But then I noticed this past week or two that there is a raccoon who has joined the early audience and he waits patiently for me to set down the food and step away so that he can be there for the early bird special.

Yesterday evening I got to talk to him for a few moments and he didn’t run away. He just patiently waited for me to be done with the “wah, wah, wah” sounds so that he could get on with the eating.

That “wah, wah” by the way is my Charlie Brown reference for adult voices.

Anyway I managed to get a few quick pics of him up to where he chose his first beefaroni and then I left him alone. They are at the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy.

As I got on with the rest of my evening, I began to think of the patience shown by all these little creatures and how we humans could learn something from them.

“Patience is a virtue” was the old saying and I remember hearing that thrown at me several times growing up. But in many ways it is a lost virtue.

We have become an instant gratification race where everything needs to happen immediately if not sooner.

Fast food, instant winners, movies on demand, are all symptoms of an unwillingness for anybody to wait for anything any more.

I remember the first time it ever really slapped my in the face; I had just moved to America and was shocked at the practice among some of my new friends that their tradition was to open a Christmas present the night before Christmas. Now to those of you that do such a thing, you may not see how crazy that is to people that actually wait until Christmas to open their “Christmas” presents.

I am somewhat surprised that there isn’t an Easter egg hunt the night before Easter, or trick or treating going on October 30th.

Instant gratification fits with a culture that has focused on productivity to an extreme. Where every minute is critically important and therefore needs to be shortened.

So we go through a drive-thru so as to not have to wait in line for something. We use personal shoppers and curbside pick up at Walmart so that we don’t have to waste our precious time doing it. We use the fast pass at Disney so that we don’t have to wait in line for a ride.

We zip home in traffic determined to shorten our drive by a minute here and there, risking life and limb with questionable speeds and driving practices.

And then what do we do with all this precious time we have saved along the way?

We sit on a sofa in front of the TV and vegetate.

So, though we describe our actions as a time saving mechanism, the reality is that we are simply impatient. It has nothing to do with actually saving time, because saving implies you are planning on using it for a greater purpose at some later moment.

Generationally speaking we are evolving into a more impatient race, as we pass on technologies and behaviors to our children that makes them more impatient than us. Remember dial-up internet anybody? Explain that wait to a 16 year old.

I don’t know where we expect it all to end. Do we just blink our eyes and whatever we want is immediately there? Is that the end point?

And as if that whole trend isn’t bad enough, we have somehow evolved into thinking that it is ok for some people to get things faster than others. Premium services allow for the rich to access the internet faster than Po Folks, allow “special” people to bypass queues at airports, allow faster shipping of purchases they just have to have today or tomorrow.

There used to be a general belief that if something was worth having, it was worth waiting for.

It was a belief that placed some value on patience. It recognized patience as a virtue.

Virtue in itself is rapidly becoming a forgotten value, unfortunately. We don’t seem to seek it in others any more and I am not sure we even aim for it within ourselves.

There is a lot to be learned from these little wild creatures … perhaps if we try, we might rediscover some of our lost virtues.

When we allow virtue to become a lost value to us we only breathe life into that famous quote by Plato: “Knowledge becomes evil, if the aim be not virtuous.”

… just a thought!