Do you get the feeling that society is becoming too impatient?
We seem to expect instant results these days: immediate responses to our texts or emails, same-day delivery for things we order, instantaneous loading of videos or web pages. In fact, a study showed that a YouTube video that loads slowly will start losing viewers after two seconds.
The problem is that sometimes our impatience with technology gets applied to people, too. We expect people to change quickly, and if they don’t, we lose patience with them and give up on them.
This reminds me of the tale of the handkerchief tree.
Called the dove tree in its native China, it became known to Western visitors in the late 1800s, who were entranced by it. The handkerchief tree features stunning white bracts surrounding its flowers, which resemble doves, ghosts or fluttering handkerchiefs, hence its name in the West.
European botanists in China collected the seeds and brought them back home, keen to grow such a gorgeous tree. One gardener planted the seeds, but was disappointed to find after a year that they hadn’t sprouted into seedlings. Figuring that the seeds must be no good, he discarded them by dumping them onto his compost pile, then forgot about them.
To his surprise, two years later he saw a bunch of seedlings on the compost pile. They were from the handkerchief tree. They had sprouted after all!
What he didn’t know was that seeds of the handkerchief tree have what’s called a “double dormancy”: they require two years to germinate, unlike most seeds which will sprout within the first year.
He had written them off too soon.
Don’t we do the same with people sometimes?