Being able to wait is so hard that the greatest poets did not disdain to make the inability to wait the theme of their poetry. Thus Shakespeare in his Othello, Sophocles in his Ajax,21 who, as the oracle suggests, might not have thought his suicide necessary, if only he had been able to let his feeling cool for one day more. He probably would have outfoxed the terrible promptings of his wounded vanity and said to himself: “Who, in my situation, has never once taken a sheep for a warrior? Is that so monstrous? On the contrary, it is something universally human.” Ajax might have consoled himself thus.
Passion will not wait.
The tragedy in the lives of great men often lies not in their conflict with the times and the baseness of their fellow men, but rather in their inability to postpone their work for a year or two. They cannot wait.
In every duel, the advising friends have to determine whether the parties involved might be able to wait a while longer. If they cannot, then a duel is reasonable, since each of the parties says to himself: “Either I continue to live, and the other must die at once, or vice versa.” In that case, to wait would be to continue suffering the horrible torture of offended honor in the presence of the offender.
And this can be more suffering than life is worth.
Friedrich Nietzsche-Human, All too Human