Giving Time to Time

Alfredo Fernandez

Penelope. Illustration: Grupo Koilia

HAVANA TIMES – In the Iliad, Penelope symbolizes the image of waiting. Homer immortalized her as she wove a never-ending shroud for the father of her beloved Odysseus. Ever since then, nothing has linked to patience in our culture more than the image of weaving. But, not anymore. Today, waiting is generally linked to failure, to anxiety and even personal harm.

In the past, a young woman would wait years for her boyfriend to return from war, his studies or working far from home. In the past, a young man would court a woman for years as well, until she finally gave in to his love. Not anymore, and people no longer weave. Perhaps this is why nobody waits anymore.

While building personal integrity always used to entail patience, this quality has now become obsolete. Westerners who promote quality of life, prioritize qualities such as attitude, proactivity and resilience above standing still and being patient.

Today, the priority is grabbing hold of the here and now, so it isn’t hard to run into people every day who need everything in one lifetime: success in studying, business, love, family, with friends and all of this is accompanied by a sculpted body that reinforces the image of an implacable winner.

Space for failure in our society has been reduced, you have to be successful no matter what it takes, so the art of waiting has been forgotten, it is no longer convenient to give time to time amidst the many conquests we apparently have ahead of ourselves.

Life forced me some years ago to take note of this quality, to learn and wait, even though I didn’t want to. For reasons I won’t go into right now, I had to separate myself from the herd and learn to wait, ever so patiently like Penelope at times, or even like Job.

At the beginning of the century, I began studying a degree long-distance. This kind of studying makes people give up hope and so many of my classmates didn’t graduate. The reality is that time went by and those of us who had the integrity to pay the price of this life, were rewarded.

Waiting is never forever, nor is it the same for all of us. While some people already become parents in their teenage years, others aren’t until they are in their forties. That’s life, always ready to exceed any logic. Patience used to prepare human beings in the past, both emotionally and physically, for the best things in life. After drinking the bitter cup of endurance, people were capable of enjoying the definitive pleasure that came from earning something which took more effort than normal.

Training young people to become patient will change the game that we call “personal growth” today, it will help us to build societies with more responsible people who have a sense of belonging to this planet and the human race. There is something serious hidden away in coaching today, which tries to sell us the idea that we can all be rich and happy in the traditional sense – accumulating a lot of wealth and increasing our consumption of natural resouces – when this isn’t the case.

Human beings can no longer consume in this way. The planet can’t take it. A change of personal priorities is absolutely urgent. Attitudes and proactiveness should also go hand-in-hand with contemplation, introspection and reflection that lead us to consume what we need and do without the waste of resources that don’t belong to us but our fellow inhabitants on this planet.

Knowing how to wait with self-absorption will help us become better people, and finally understand that there are things in life (the best things in life) that only come with the passage of time, like a fruit that only tastes good after it has had time to mature naturally.

Present-day magicians show us that everything is within our reach as long as we have lots of money. You can get your body in shape in just a few weeks if you pay the right plastic surgeon, whether that’s sculpting your figure or losing a couple of hundred of pounds. This will always be essential if you want to access a group of people who only accept you if you have an impressive physique and a magnificent wallet, of course.

In the time of influencers, patience has been cast aside for some artists; sculptors, metalsmiths, musicians, dancers, etc., who take months and sometimes years to create their work, or for people who teach themselves in a spiritual way, according to the times we live in. A company owner won’t wait to train an employee in a certain area, once they are employed, they need to be productive from the get-go otherwise they will be fired on the spot.

The future came quicker than we expected, it surprised many of us when we were still naked, without enough time to get dressed, so we had to grab any old thing we had within reach and not what we really needed for the occasion. Criticism soon came and some of us believed it.

– Aren’t you rich and happy? Well, it’s your fault and nobody else’s.

While financial wellbeing is a key factor in a person’s emotional stability, it isn’t the only thing needed. You need other values such as friendship, altruism and doing good things for others not wanting anything in return. If only those who push for wellbeing and happiness today realized the wisdom and importance that lies in taking time to think and wait.

Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.