Friday, February 7, 2014

You Can’t Hurry Love—No, You’ll Just Have to Wait

I was two years old in 1966 when the Supremes came out with that big hit song on Motown Records. Written from the perspective of a mother to her impatient daughter, it contains a lot of wisdom.

Along the same line, these days just about the only thing we receive by post is junk mail, bills and business letters! We rarely get something we really cherish unless it’s a gift sent to us or a book we have ordered. I don’t even know the postman who delivers my mail these days. If you know yours, you are fortunate. 

I recall when I was younger and madly in love with my boyfriend (who is now my husband). He had gone to the US to pursue his graduate studies. At that time, there was no Internet and the landline telephone system scarcely worked as we were in the midst of the civil war in Lebanon. I used to write a diary every single evening and then after two weeks I sealed it in an envelope and sent it to him by post. I did that religiously, and he did the same. Our letters took two or three weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and I waited for them patiently and with anguish. 
“The frankest and freest and privatest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter.” ― Mark Twain
The postman who brought these love letters was a very nice man in his fifties. He quickly realized how much they meant to me, so every time he had something for me, he rushed to our house with a big smile on his face to hand me the letter. I can still remember him coming from down the street to our house in such a kindly manner. And when he crossed the street with no letter for me, he would make a “sorry” sign on his face, letting me know that I had to wait a bit longer for the next letter from the States. I dreaded Sundays and holidays because I knew the postman would not be knocking on the door.
 “More than kisses, letters mingle souls.” ― John Donne
The arrival rate of these back-and-forth love letters could not keep pace with our elevated heart rates, so my boyfriend cut short his stay in the US and came back home to finish his master’s degree at a local university. As a result, the letters stopped coming. The kind postman worried that my boyfriend had left me, so he asked Dad about me to make sure that I was doing fine. 
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Nowadays, we are far removed from the ’80s, when there was no Internet, instant messaging or Skype phone calls. This is affecting all of us and in particular the younger generation which has grown accustomed to being bombarded with fast-turnover information; they filter it instantly without paying much attention to its meaning. Our whole society is becoming instantaneous, just like instant messaging, instant photography, instant news, instant coffee and so forth. We are unwilling to decipher any complicated messages, wanting things simple and fast. Depth and nuance are out the window.

The biggest weakness of today’s generation is impatience. If I may generalize, it seems that young people want to see things happen immediately or get changes in place right away. They have no patience to let things develop and watch as situations ripen. Real dreams take work and time—and yes, patience. That tends to win out in the end.
“Traveler, there is no path; the path is made by walking…Beat by beat, verse by verse.” ―Antonio Machado

* I would like to thank my friend Richard Pennington for his most valuable comments!