alea iacta esto

“Patience Is Mine”, intoned Pleasure.

“So let us instruct you in the art of vengeance.

Vengeance should never be seen as that.
It should always be unexpected
And it should rarely be public

Vengeance is patient.
It can wait a lifetime if necessary.”

From the TV series “The Borgias” starring Jeremy Irons; Season 2, Episode 4: Stray Dogs

In the famous study by Walter Mischel from the 1960s, kids left alone in a room to contemplate the yummy prospect of the single marshmallow placed in front of them were promised two marshmallows if they could wait until an adult returned to the room before eating. The children who waited patiently were later found to have achieved higher exam scores and to have earned higher salaries blah blah blah and by extrapolation I suspect to have been happier and more fulfilled than the kids who took to their gastric pleasures instantly.

So, is this a trusted principle for living? Waiting. Patience. Delayed gratification. The right bus. The right job. The right love. The right word. The right home. Does life promise rewards such as our dreams? At least in the study cited above the kids knew they would have their extra marshmallow. But in life we simply do not know for certain that the reward we have dreamed will be ours. What we do know is that the pleasure that we do see is in the here and now. And it is oh so easy to reach out and partake of the dopamine that awaits the brain. Afterall, a bird in hand …

But if the waiting itself could be made pleasurable, the journey and not the destination, then a whole new ball game opens up. Labour rather than delivery could become a raison d’etre. It’s like the high that comes after a good workout session even though you had not wanted the sweaty grind in the first place. And if one should die before the prize is given it wouldn’t matter in the least for the fun was in the doing and not in the getting. But perhaps I am, like The Borgias, being too dramatic and the wreath of gold waiting at the limit of our forbearance is like a chimaera, a mirage, a phantasm, an illusion. There is just one way to find out.


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