Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Patience is a Virtue... or the Collateral Damage of Travel

A few days back, I decided to bike commute to a morning yoga class. It was a dreary day, and although I was cold, I enjoy biking. I'm not a big fan of being in the car, and I'm especially not a big fan of daily commutes. After hitting some traffic, I found myself on a relatively desolate, two lane road, but with little to no bike lane. Though I was enjoying my morning jaunt to class, the lady driving the overpriced, luxury SUV behind me seemed to have a less jovial attitude as she rode my ass, laid on the horn, and nearly clipped me while erratically changing lanes (why she didn't change lanes earlier is beyond me). The Irony of our opposing mentalities and daily endeavors aside, what this small incident remind is a belief that those who travel, consciously or not, have a more developed sense of patience.

I'll be the first to admit there are definite holes in this theory. If you put me in a car, morning after morning, trying to beat traffic on the way to a job I probably am not entirely stoked on, I'm sure my patience would be waining as well. In the same light, not all people who have "traveled," have been bestowed the opportunities to learn patience that some of us vagabonds have...but bear with me, I think I can get you to see the light.

There is an intangible, yet gaping, divide between the experiences of those who have left the developed world, and those who have not. In the developed world, we believe in the "on-the-go," lifestyle. Especially in the land of the stars and stripes, the idea of sitting and eating a meal,  actually enjoying your morning coffee, or even focusing on a single task, is unheard of. We are programmed from a young age to forget our own schedules, believing that if we are late, or something breaks our daily routine, the end of the universe is inevitable. It's sad, but the idea of waiting or portraying the tiniest sliver of patience, is about as common as a lasting marriage.

Now, imagine THIS existence compared to places where linear time doesn't rule all. A place where schedules come and go, and on top of that, shit CAN and WILL happen at nearly every opportunity. Sure a bus or train can be late in the developed world, but imagine not knowing if a train or bus will even show up at all. Maybe it never reached capacity, so the company decided to scrap it for the day. Maybe free roaming animals decided to take a nap in the middle of the street, so the patrons of the bus are forced to wait while the flustered driver tries to wake and shoo the sleepy beasts. If that was something you experienced a few times in your life, do you really think a biker on the far end of one of two lanes would infuriate you to the point of near homicide?

What you learn while venturing into different existences is that the world is full of surprises. While an unexpected hiccup in the states may derail a person's day, a literal derailed train elsewhere in the world may not phase someone who is used to the adapting to life's curveballs. The unexpected is inevitable, and while we will all experience it at some point, how we react to this surprising visitor is what really matters. My guess is that 9 times out of 10, a person who has traveled will be much more patient and understanding to this simple twist of fate than that of their counterparts. I'm fairly certain that the person who traveled may even see the unexpected as an opportunity, not a burden, and their day will continue in a seamless fashion.

The next time you have an encounter with an unplanned detour, remember there are always different routes back to the main road. Are you going to be the person who lays on the horn and complains, or are you going to change lanes with grace?

Photos courtesy of Doscity
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