Some may say that time is both our greatest ally and enemy. We cling on to good memories with our dear lives; always reliving the past, our glory days, relishing the nostalgia that numbs the present and soothes the soul. Other times, however, we place undue blame on time, tainting its reputation. We attribute our bad experiences and painful lessons to bad timing. Shoddy work as the result of lack of time. Missed opportunities as being the right person at the wrong time.
However, to assume that time is both our friend yet simultaneously holds the potential to be our biggest back-stabber has a crippling effect on how we treat both it and the people around us. We begin to move with a perplexed caution that threatens our capacity to make new memories, build new bridges and form new friendships. We cannot fully appreciate time if we keep holding it away at arms-length; if we keep fearing investing time into people and things that matter because it may not give positive returns.
We shouldn’t treat time as an enemy. Time, whether sufficient, deficient, wearily abused or wisely invested holds abundant lessons for us to learn from and moments for us to cherish. We won’t have enough time in our lives to do everything we want to; it will always be scarce. The scarcity should not cause us to fear, in fact, it should make us embrace it all the more. When we recognise its preciousness, we become more thankful. I’m not saying life becomes idyllic, but it sure becomes more directed, because we know we can steward whatever little we have for great purposes. A little part of us desires immortality and for good times to last forever, but many of us don’t know what to do with the time we have already been given anyway. We want more time, but what do we do with ourselves during rainy afternoons and quiet train rides?
Notice I didn’t say we own time. We can’t own it, neither can we control it. I’m not just talking about the 24-hour day we have been bestowed with. We may appear to be the masters of our own lives, when we schedule our days, build our careers and expand our networks, but we are in fact scarcely limited in our ability to control our destinies. We can’t control what portion of history to be born into; we can’t manoeuvre our lives and settle upon a day we would prefer to be turned to dust; we can’t choose what day to fall sick on (I would imagine manic Mondays to be a preferred choice). Hence, stewardship is a more accurate way of looking at our relationship with time. We use what we’ve been given to please the one who gives.
We are advised that time heals all wounds, that beyond our present moment lies some form of restoration. And sometimes, it may not feel like it. As much as I resent it when people tell me this, I have learnt that it actually does. Maybe not all wounds, and definitely not in the way we anticipate it to happen, but time definitely aids in the healing process. It allows us a grace period for our raging emotions to die down; it moves us from a narrow, self-centred focus to a position of logic and rationality. Perhaps it is not time itself that heal us, but what if it brings the contents of healing? What if it allows fresh new things to happen, more kindly words to be spoken, and more opportunities of forgiveness to eventuate?
Don’t antagonize time. And don’t fear its scarcity either. You might end up clinging onto it so tightly, it begins to lose its value.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring