Saturday, June 2, 2007
The Virtues of Patience
There is an old proverb to the effect that 'Patience is a virtue' and yet, contemporary society does not encourage this virtue at all. In fact, advertising and media in general encourage impatience, promising instant gratification of every need or desire. With the advent of air travel, people no longer had to spend months in journeying from one location to another. Beyond that, items once unavailable during certain seasons became available at all times because of the ability to transport perishable goods from one point on the globe to another.
Dried fruits and nuts, once special treats at Christmas because fresh fruit could not be purchased in Western Europe, has been replaced by an infinite variety of exotic fresh fruits.
There was a time when one only could see a film at the cinema. With the advent of video tapes, one could purchase the film to watch it whenever one wished, but the recording never was available until a year or two had passed since the initial release of the film for cinema. Now DVDs are available only a few months after the release of any film.
Telephone and 'Instant Message' have replaced the letter where communication is concerned.
Parcels can be sent 'overnight' to be delivered the next morning. One needn't even go to a marketplace to purchase an item. One can buy almost anything online and have it delivered.
Where then are we taught the virtue of patience?
Games like Harvest Moon certainly teach the ancient virtue of patience. There is no way that a player can become involved with any Harvest Moon game and expect instant gratification. Harvest Moon games are based on farming, and farming takes time. New options are unlocked only when a certain amount of time has passed. There are few shortcuts.
For this reason, many gamers pronounce Harvest Moon and other games of this genre to be 'boring'. Who on earth wants to plant crops, then water them every day until they can be harvested? Who on earth wants to care for animals on a daily basis?
In fact, repetition of tasks like this can be extremely satisfying if one learns to jettison the expectation of instant gratification that is the curse of contemporary society. When one can take simple pleasure in watching a plant grow from a seed to a crop that can be harvested, one is in harmony with life, even if that life is no more than a 'virtual' one. It is when one becomes anxious to unlock the next option that Harvest Moon and other games like it become 'tedious'.
It is a matter of surrender to the natural rhythm of seasons and Nature. I submit that this is an important spiritual lesson and one that can be invaluable. Anxiety and stress are so much an integral part of contemporary life because we expect too much too quickly. Technology has given us a false sense of control. In fact, Nature is as powerful as ever, and Time still triumphs over our mortal beings. Would we not be more at peace with our universe if we had patience and the ability to sink into the natural rhythm of life?