I reckon we should all try to have a little more patience. I grew up in a time before self-checkouts and online shopping. When sending an e-mail meant plugging a cable in and keeping your fingers crossed someone didn’t try to use the phone as you connected via dial-up. Mobile phones were used to speak to people. Doing a project at school meant heading to the library or, if you were lucky, digging out the Encarta CD-ROM.
I remember the days of having to wait to listen to a new song – for it to come on the radio or saving up to buy it on cassette. Watching a film meant rewinding videos before fast-forwarding past the adverts to the start.
Buying petrol meant walking into the kiosk to pay. The McDonald’s drive-thru hadn’t caught on. You even had to go to the bar in Wetherspoons to order drinks.
I could go on but you get the point. We can access things a lot more quickly these days. Spotify. Netflix. Pay-at-pump. The iPhone. The stuff of science fiction for a teenage boy in the 90s.
And it’s made us forget what patience is. We’re conditioned to expect instant results and can’t cope when we have to wait for things. I’ve seen people lose it if they have to wait their turn in a queue. Or if they can’t pay using contactless. Or if someone doesn’t reply to their e-mail within a nanosecond.
It’s why I love the outdoors so much. It teaches you to have patience. There’s no mobile signal to order a Deliveroo. You can only get to the top of the hill as quickly as your legs will carry you. And the incredible views force you to slow down as you take them in.
You carry everything you need for the day / night / week in your rucksack. If you want something and don’t have it with you, tough – you have to make do. It teaches you to be patient as you improvise, adapt and overcome.
And it goes further than that. Spend longer in the outdoors and you start to tune into the rhythm of the countryside. The birds singing. The waterfall crashing down the hillside. The wind whistling around your ears. It’s nature’s way of dabbing the brakes on the speed of modern-life.
And recently, Mother Nature has forced us outdoorsy-types to be more patient than ever. With a new named storm punishing the hills for the last four weekends, I’ve not been to the Lake District for nearly two months now and it’s testing my composure. I always want to be out there, and short of moving to a national park, I have to accept that’s not going to happen. I’m learning to appreciate the time I do get to spend in the mountains, which I accept is more than most.
The hills will always be there for another day. It’s not just about bagging peaks as quickly as possible. It’s about enjoying the planning, the journey and the memories of being in our wild places.
So, in the words of Take That, try to ‘have a little patience’. And once the storms have passed and the floodwaters have receded, we can appreciate getting back out there even more. I just hope it’s soon!