Quitting and wanton patience

I have always had an aversion to quitting in between when the job was as yet unfinished. An aversion no doubt pounded into me during my upbringing. You too must have kept hearing stuff like, ” Winners never quit and quitters never win.” You see movies where the lead actor wants to quit and the lead actress shames him into continual trying by saying stuff like “How could I have fallen in love with quitter.” Remember top gun where Maverick wants to quit. What does she say to him?

But lately I may need to do a re-think on this. What if you are on a wild goose chase? Would it profit you to go on for ever? What if a man was trying to build a dam made of sand. He could go on for all eternity and still not have a functional dam. Sure you can say that he should not quit and instead try to build a dam with stone. But what if sand was the only available material? They don’t teach this stuff in school do they? All the proverbs in school are just dumbed down slogans. Lost is the nuance. Lost is the context. All that is left is a catchy Jingle or a political slogan. If your school teachers were anything like mine, then you probably know that a lot of them were not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. They probably never took any initiative in their lives nor did they do anything terribly original.

I’ve been waiting five years for this event. I have achieved several of my goals. There is one last goal. But I do not know how far the goal really is. You must have heard the story of the donkey dragging a cart while a farmer placed a carrot right in front of it’s nose. The donkey moves to get to the carrot, but since the cart moves along with the donkey and the farmer sits on the cart, the carrot too moves at the same speed as the donkey and is always exactly out of reach of the Donkey. I am kinda feeling like this donkey right now. I’m waiting for some government paperwork before I move to the next thing in my life. I was initially led to believe that I would get it approved right that day. Then after I submitted the application, I was told that it would take another 1-2 weeks and now 2 weeks minus one day are up and still no approval. Worse, I cannot get an answer as to where in the process it is. And how much longer the wait is. It is completely opaque. Meanwhile my body is in full blown rebellion. No longer is it willing to allow the mind to drag it along. Violent, unpleasant sensations ravage the body. Do I really need this governmental approval. How much longer is the wait. I no longer want to continue doing what I have been doing. My original intent was to get the approval and then quit. But to get the approval I have to continue doing what I have been doing. After I get the approval I really no longer need to. Governments can be silly this way. Now do you see my analogy of sand being the only material to build the dam? Should I really be building the dam? Should I look at other avenues of getting water for irrigation?

Q1. Do I really need this approval to achieve my aims?

ans. Not really but it would make things so much easier to achieve my aims

Q2. What is the problem with waiting?

ans. Violently unpleasant sensations ravage my body. I have lost control of my emotions. Can you ask a man who has finished a marathon to go another mile? My health could seriously be ruined by this.

While patience is a virtue, there is such a thing as wanton patience. At this point patience leaves the domain of a virtue and enters the territory of foolhardiness. There is something profoundly emasculating about waiting like a serf while your masters in government decide your fate. There is profound dignity in telling your masters to go stuff themselves. This constant waiting makes one feel like a serf. That’s part of the body’s rebellion. My body is telling me enough is enough. How much are our masters allowed to lie to us. How much are they allowed to raise our hopes and then put our dreams just out of reach. Not completely out of reach, as we would stop trying. They make it look like if you just tried a teeny weeny bit more, you’d get it. How much longer are they allowed to get away with this? The last time I applied extreme willpower in bodybuilding, I injured my nerves. By applying it this time, I might end up hurting my emotional health. Well, one thing that a man must do is learn from experience. I must not apply extreme willpower this time. Or it might just kill me emotionally. You see, I have lost control of my emotions.

So the lesson is clear. My max wait is 3 days no matter what happens. In between if I lose control of my emotions, I will quit. I have to learn how to be a peace with myself and the things that happen to me. All I ever wanted was the satisfaction of trying my best of giving it my best shot. But what does giving it your best shot mean? Does it mean going so far as to lose your health? Your sanity? A limb? The answers are not clear. What is important is that you be at peace with yourself. And I think I will have to learn to be at peace with the emotions that come from the feeling that I may not have tried my best. Ok, so I am a quitter. Now what? It’s a classic battle taking place in my mind. One part says, “Quitter”. The other part says, “Slave”. I don’t know about you, I’d rather be a quitter. A slave has no dignity, no redeeming quality. A quitter at least has his freedom.

Still there is the following survival guide

1. Don’t dwell in negativity

2. Exercise

3. Meditate

4. Accept that you may be a quitter

update: June 4

Okay Finally things have come through. I can move on with the next thing in life. But i still want to update my thoughts on this matter. I now believe that not all types of patience are virtues. There is a good patience and there is a bad patience. Good patience is illustrated by the Following Zen story (source:http://www.messagefrommasters.com/Stories/Meditation/Martial_Arts_as_Meditation.htm

One day one martial art student went to a master and asked him earnestly “I want to learn martial art system”. How much time it will take me to master it? Master looked at the boy and said “ten years”. But the boy did not wanted to wait for so long. So impatiently he answered “I want to master the martial art faster than that. I will work very hard. Tell me if I work harder then how much time it will take me to master martial arts”. Master again looked at the boy and replied “twenty five years”.

 The type of patience in the above story is the good type of patience. However the goal at hand is completely in the hands of the student. The student knows the goal, the student knows his present abilities and he can also see his own progress. It’s all up to the student. How hard he works, how single minded the pursuit, how dedicated he is. With these markers, he himself can make an estimate how long it will take him. And the most important thing, he really enjoys the martial arts. He enjoys the movements, the stances, the balance, the beauty, the words of wisdom from the master, everything. This patience is the Good type of patience.

Now let us illustrate the bad kind of patience.

Your are an office worker in a reasonably prosperous land. Your home country is a shit hole. Your heart however is not in office work. Your heart is in farming. You can do one of two things.

Option1: You can return to your home country and start farming right away. Yes, it is a shit hole, the officials are corrupt, the land is not so fertile and the rains are uncertain but atleast you will be doing what your heart likes to do.   

Option2: You can apply for a land ownership and farming permit in your adopted country before you can start farming. The benefits are many. The government is honest, the soil fertile and the rains abundant. The only cave-at is that the permit for land ownership and farming takes a few months. You will have to wait a few months for the required clearances. You say to yourself, “Ok! I’ll continue in this soul-sucking job for the next few months. But after that I can pursue my heart’s passion in this fabulous land. A few months of torture is worth a life time of joy.” So you submit the required paperwork and you wait. Months turn into more months. More months turn into years. You have no idea what is happening. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process. The land records bureau tells you not to contact them. They will contact you. 1 Year turns to two. Two turns to three. Your office job is killing you. But you need to keep at it in order to continue to be eligible for the permits. Slowly your soul is being destroyed. You are losing interest in farming slowly. Indeed, you are losing your interest in life. One day, the permits come. But the long wait has destroyed you. It has sucked your soul. It has turned you from an adventurous man to one who just goes with the times. You are tired. You are jaded. You have started smoking and drinking in order to pass the time in a life lived without passion. Your liver and lungs are destroyed. You are a shell of the man you used to be.

The kind of patience exhibited by the man above is the bad patience. But why is it bad patience. What distinguishes good patience from bad? The answer is obvious. The kind of patience in which you are slowly gaining skill in a chosen activity is good patience. The patience lies is slowly gaining the skill, recognising the fact that you are still a novice and that becoming a master will take time. However you can measure your progress and you also can make a good guess how long it will take you. You also enjoy the process and while you very eagerly want to be a master of your art, the journey is exhilirating as well. and you are the master of your own destiny every step of the way.

In the second kind, you are stuck in a activity you dislike. You are not gaining any skill. You have no idea of your progress. You have no idea how long it will take. All things are out of your hands. There is no feedback. And waiting for the decision of another man makes you feel emasculated. Makes you feel like a serf. And that my friends, is why I call this bad patience or wanton patience.


About masculineffort

A Man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, seduce a woman, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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