Formulas, stories and insights
By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Mesorah Publications, Ltd.
Every time you see someone who is impatient, you have a heaven-sent opportunity to learn patience. Impatience can look ridiculous. Why is this person so impatient just because something is taking a few seconds longer than he would have wished? At other times, you may look on in revulsion at a parent who is angrily screaming at a young child for moving too slowly. In your eyes this child is moving at an appropriate pace for his age and size. It is the impatient parent who has the problem. When you witness the ugliness of impatience, increase your resolve to master the beauty of patience.
Being on the receiving end of someone else's impatience gives us a firsthand experience of what others experience if we are impatient with them. Doesn't it feel distressful to be rushed by an impatient clerk? Isn't it irritating when someone you call for instructions or to register a complaint is too impatient to hear you out? Isn't it annoying when you are going as fast as you can and someone yells, "Hurry up already!"
Most likely you have an entire mental library of impatient anecdotes and stories. Whenever you recall instances from the past when others have been impatient with you or with someone else, you have a lesson in becoming more patient yourself. From now on each new experience is another addition in your course on patience.
When someone else is impatient, it is easier for us to understand why that person should be more patient. Great! This way we will have many teachers who do not even realize that they are doing us a service by teaching us to become more patient.
I was waiting in line for an overseas flight. Boarding started way in advance of the actual takeoff time. There were two lines. The man right behind me noticed that the other line was moving faster than our line. It was amazing how annoyed he was. He looked totally ridiculous as he was complaining out loud how awful it was that our line was moving so slow while the other line was moving faster. He spoke rudely to everyone within earshot.
I felt like turning around to him and asking him, "Why are you so upset? We're all going to be on the same plane and we have plenty of time left. Enjoy yourself. Don't make yourself and everyone around you miserable!"
I didn't think that he would appreciate this so I kept quiet. Much later when I looked back at that incident, I realized that this is how I must appear to others when I am impatient. That's certainly not how I want to be.