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 Have you ever heard the proverb “Haste makes waste?” This phrase, which has been around since the 16th century, serves as a reminder that rushing a task often leads to suboptimal results. This paradox of patience and impatience is also seen in Chinese culture, where the character 稳 (wěn) means “steady”. While this character appears to be simply two characters side by side, there is more to it than meets the eye. Let us take a closer look at how this character can teach us about patience and ambition.

The Chinese character  稳 (wěn) and its composition reminds me of sometime we have to control the urge to speed up to make things work.  

In today’s fast-paced world, it often feels like we have to choose between quality and time. We value speed over planning, and find ourselves rushing to meet deadlines without considering the potential consequences. Even knowing the proverb, “Haste makes waste,” it can be difficult to break this habit and take a moment to consider the bigger picture.

The Chinese character 稳 (wěn) means ‘surely’ or ‘steady’, and is a reminder to take the time necessary to do things right. Its composition, formed by combining two symbols, further emphasizes its meaning. On the left is 禾 (hé), which represents ‘grain’; while on the right is 急ji (jí), signifying ‘rush’ or ‘hurry’. Literally it means if you’re growing rice, you know that it takes time from planting until harvest – around six months – and attempting to speed up the process will only lead to withering of the grain and stress on your part.

It may seem strange that a character for steadiness should contain a character for haste, but it is an occurrence we encounter daily in life. The art lies in knowing when to slow down and properly build the foundation, and when to speed up and race against the clock. If we misjudge the pace, we will lose our balance and fail to achieve either quality or timelines. Keeping the philosophical significance of 穩 in mind can help us stay on track during times of stress.

As you contemplate the importance of 穩, use the video demo to practice Chinese calligraphy.

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