Patience, Tolerance and Prudence

When I told my wife that, in addition to her mother, aunt, nieces and nephews, and my daughter and grandchild, we would have a few more guests – Patience, Tolerance and Prudence – staying with us to enjoy the discomforts of our home, she replied: please do, we could use their company. These three friends have stuck with me ever since I could reason, when my mother introduced me to them. Any success that I’ve had in life are thanks to their advice.

Patience is calm and focused. She accompanied me at 4 a.m. all three times that I was stuck in the long line for gas, and she waited with me in the unending line at the bank when I needed to deposit my taxes and withdraw cash. She was an extraordinary friend during the abnormal traffic jam that formed when we were lashed – I mean visited – by President Donald Trump. And she never abandons me, even while I wander around, like a lost gust of hurricane wind, searching for cellphone coverage. Every time I thank her for being with me she says: No rush, this is just starting, and when there are crises like this one, the worst part is the first three months. Humor is a great ally of my friend Patience.

Tolerance is a general. Her internal discipline is the envy of martial arts masters. When Patience isn’t around, people often explode for the tiniest of reasons: A glass put in the wrong place; an open window that should be closed because there have been robberies around here; using two buckets instead of one for a bath; a hot soda; cold food; noise from the neighbor’s apartment. Tolerance then shows up. She should have a permanent job at the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management. Here in my neighborhood, we introduce Tolerance to each other, house by house. Thanks to her we’ve been able to live together peacefully. She told me that at the end of this odyssey, we’ll have enough bonus points accumulated that we won’t have to stop in purgatory on our way to heaven.

Prudence is the quietest of the three. The only time I’ve seen her separated from her friends Tolerance and Patience was when she observed the president’s visit. One of Prudence’s rules for herself is to refrain from saying anything in the heat of the moment. In those arguments when everybody fights to show that they are right, Prudence prefers to be quiet and friendly. In the supermarket, where she always goes with Patience, she makes sure not to buy too much. Instead of filling a glass full of ice, she only uses one or two cubes. She rarely complains. And she abstains from making apocalyptic comments, such as this is going to last longer than Hugo did.

I observe my island with my three friends by my side. Puerto Rico is in the midst of a painful moment that could have more devastating effects than the initial impact of Hurricane Maria. There are harmful economic and psychological consequences that we cannot negate. In this moment we might stop and take store of just what we want our country to look like – something we have needed to do for a while now.

Many industries and professions are suffering terribly. To those professionals who exchange service for money, for whom every day that is on hold bleeds them economically, I advise consulting with Patience. I say the same to those who work hourly, and to the stalled businesses who hire them. We need Patience, for example, in the entertainment industry, which is currently suffering devastating losses. Without electricity, there are no theaters. Without theaters, there are no events. And without events, there is no income.

I recommend consulting with Prudence and Tolerance as we wrestle with the psychological aspects of the current moment, especially for those who are most vulnerable – children and the elderly. Children have had their routines altered dramatically. And on the other end of the spectrum, the elderly require aid. My mother, 92 years old, and my father, 103 years old, have had to adapt to living in the house of one of my sisters until the small home they lived in for 72 years can be rebuilt. Luckily, they have another friend to accompany Patience, Tolerance and Prudence: her name is Faith.

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