Patience is the art of leaving that shit alone.

I’ve been thinking about patience lately, and, in particular, how it is a rarity among the virtues in that its mandate is to do nothing.  Most virtues – courage, honor, honesty, charity, etc. – often require us to take some action in the face of antagonism (either external or internal):  tell the truth, help those in need, carry on through your fear.  Or they at least might equally require us to do something or not do something:  honor, for example, would insist that you both call a penalty on yourself in golf and also that you not cheat on your spouse.

But patience is concerned with the negative.  In this it may be closer to the attributes promoted by Zen.  Stillness.  Silence.  Letting the world around you unfold, without trying to force it open.  Patience appears to be an undervalued quality in Western society.  Then again, maybe parents teach it all the time, using different words.  Though the scrapes I get these days are more psychological than physical, they’re no less real, and take just as much time to heal, if not more — and I can still hear my mom’s voice from years ago:

“Don’t pick at it.”

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