“We have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children.” – Kenyan Proverb
One of the greatest parameters in human existence is that often ignored four-letter word that is so very important to things on Earth. That phenomenon called TIME.
It is practically the most independent quality in life as many know it and debatably the only constant known to man. Man has tamed or tampered with everything on Earth and in the universe around us but time would not be touched. Even when people say: “The only constant thing in life is change” I am quick to remind them that change itself is a function of time.
Whether you’re in a lunar module or in a submarine under the Indian Ocean, in prison, skydiving or even walking the streets of Potiskum or Islamabad, time ticks away at the same rate of one second. What may however be different is our interaction with that time within the confines of our present condition, that is, our perception of time differs depending on our circumstances.
The focus today is on the three aspects of time namely: tomorrow, today and yesterday. Today is taken to mean this present time; tomorrow – time to come and yesterday – time past. What should be our disposition towards the three? How should they affect the lives we live? Are they even worth observing?
A question one should ask oneself before going on to read the rest of this discourse is: Which I do I consider the most important out of today, tomorrow and yesterday? Go on, answer the question. Suffice to say, there are no right or wrong answers.
Having answered that question, you may now proceed. Remember that one may choose an answer mentally but the answer that the experience of one’s life points to may be different but it is a more accurate reflection of a person’s thought patterns.
From a careful study of many lives today, it won’t be difficult to realise that ‘yesterday’ seems to be the ruling time aspect. Their experiences are coloured deeply by events in the past. An amputated limb, a bereavement (familial or financial), a betrayal, birth circumstances, a disaster etc are some of the reasons for the stagnation and fixation on the past. They carry the past like badges or more like heavy luggages tied down behind their backs and weighing down on them.
You know a story from The Book about a man bedridden for thirty-eight years and lying by a miracle pool who was approached and asked what he wanted. Instead of requesting for his healing, he began a long tirade about having no man to help him. They sleep (or not sleep) with yesterday, eat (or not eat) with it. Yesterday is their best friend, always there to console them and provide explanations as to why the dreams cannot happen.
Then, there are those who are in love with today. Their marriage certificate with today hangs on the wall of their lives so conspicuously. These are those who grab all they can today, can all they grab today and sit on that can today. These ones, in a quick glance look like they’ve escaped the clutches of yesterday though a second look would reveal that aren’t. Today’s people are different from yesterday’s people because they have become proactive about their circumstances.
They are ruthless in gaining advantage over others, they kick, scratch and bite if they sense they may come out short in any transaction. They live for today, literarily. They don’t think tomorrow would bring much so they grab, grab and grab all today. Delayed gratification is just ordinary big grammar as far as they are concerned. To them, for all you care, tomorrow may never come. A ready example also comes from The Book, a story of two brothers in which the elder sold his birthright for a meal of porridge because he was hungry. There was no need to delay his gratification, “…I’m dying of hunger and you’re talking about birth-right?” he said. Just like people in this group, tomorrow may never come.
Then, there are the other set of people, they are often very busy today even though a lot of the rewards of their busy-ness are not seen today. As far as they’re concerned, yesterday is only as useful as a used toilet paper: destined for the waste bin. They seem to have a vested interest in tomorrow, behave as if they own tomorrow. Tomorrow is as real as the next street.
Furthermore, they act like whatever is on hand now once belonged to tomorrow. For them tomorrow is the father of today.
Think about that: TOMORROW IS THE FATHER OF TODAY. Conventional thinking seems to go along with the converse, right? Today expends all its energy and at its death delivers a brand new baby named tomorrow. That is what we mostly assume. But is it true? Or does it depend on our perspective?
If I go to school today so that I can be a lawyer tomorrow, isn’t my tomorrow the determinant of my today? In order to be somebody tomorrow, don’t we do the dictates of that tomorrow today?
The truth of the matter, or more succintly put, my view of the matter is this: if one has tomorrow in mind, there should be no confusion as to what today should look like.
No one should for today as today only. I’ve often seen that some people (not all the stories end well) seem so consumed with tomorrow that death seems to be unable to touch them today. It’s like their lives have been padlocked against death today until a certain tomorrow comes.
Think about it: tomorrow is key, buying shares in tomorrow would do a world of good when tomorrow delivers today.
Remember the Kenyan proverb.