Amblin' Alameda: Patience

Amblin' Alameda: Patience

Morton Chalfy

We’ve just returned from a day trip to the Cotati Accordion Festival and for the umpteenth time, we encountered the palpable difference between Alameda and the rest of the world. Or at least the rest of California. After the pace of traffic in San Francisco and Oakland, after the labor of I-580, I-880 and U.S. 101, the mad racers and the predictable traffic jams, the short trip across the Park Street Bridge immediately brings a feeling of peacefulness.

The drivers in Alameda are, well, more patient, the pace is slower and the atmosphere of the city is calmer. I find I value that calm more and more as I grow older. The adage says “Patience Is A Virtue” and though I am often described as “patient,” “very patient” and sometimes “too damn patient to live with,” I never feel virtuous about it. That’s because of how I come to be patient. Patience is not some inborn trait of mine which has flowered over the years. Patience is the result of hard waiting for many things over the course of my life and the even harder lessons of just how long things take.

Not only is there a season for everything, (often not the season we’re in), and wanting spring flowers at the end of autumn is one of those “not gonna happen” events, enough repetitions will teach even the densest to let those desires go until a more appropriate time.

Patience is learned through this process, though not by everyone, and this learned patience, far from being a virtue, is sort of the scar tissue of the hard knocks of life. Lots of time and energy is wasted in impatience and mistakes are made more through impatience than not.

One of the lessons of a long life is that change, especially social change, takes generations to accomplish no matter what laws are passed. This is because the adults debate, but the kids decide. Of course the kids are impatient by nature, they want instant results and are unhappy with the fuddy-duddies who tell them to be patient. That’s advice I never offer, for if patience is not learned through the experience of how long things take to come about, saying “have patience” will fall on deaf ears. So whether we wait patiently or not it looks like solving the problem of funding education will take another generation, having peace in the Middle East will take at least two more generations and electing politicians who care more about governance than power will probably never happen.