The Paradox of Time

Time is an illusion – Albert Einstein

These scenarios never cease to amaze me; yes, they probably hold for any average human and are controlled by three variables: Time, Money, and Age. When you are young (in this case, young can range from the elementary school years to the campus years), you got fairly unlimited time to do whatever you desire but are unduly constrained by resources (read, money); When you begin working, and over the course of your working life, you are somehow financially unshackled and therefore got fairly enough money to meet your needs from paycheck to paycheck, you retain fairly a heap of youthful strength but in turn, are constrained by limited time; When you age and probably attain the retirement years, although you now regain somewhat unlimited time for friends and family and got a retirement package to sustain you, the juvenile vigour has gradually waned over the years. It is now replaced by cracking bones and squeaking joints. 

Image source: iStock

I am particularly interested in the second scenario because most of my current audience are young professionals trying to get a footing in their budding careers. Time becomes such a scarce resource as one transitions into the adulting stage of life. What I find most ironic is the fact that although it’s the lone resource granted by Providence to everyone on earth in equal measure, that is, 24 hours, it seems like we never get enough of it. No wonder a moniker has been coined here in Kenya saying, “Mambo ni mengi, lakini masaa ni machache,” loosely translated, means that there’s a lot to do but the time available is limited. 

Building on what we discussed last week under the theme: The Paradox of Ambition, we identified Solomon the Philosopher’s stark observation: “Virtually everything in life is decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time.” Expressed differently, being at the right place at the right time is the key to ‘success.’ The ancient Greeks called such a moment ‘Kairos,’ which meant the opportune or right time. But how do you even begin to figure that out? Well, conventional wisdom, or so-called ‘best practices, ‘ attempts to guide us on when to spot this perfect time. 

Before switching jobs, they advise one to stay for at least 3-5 progressive years in one organization; Before you marry or get married, they advise one to be aged above a quarter of a century to have matured. Before committing funds to a particular investment, they recommend conducting a detailed SWOT analysis. The list is endless, yet, even these guidelines fall short, for if one was to follow all of them as if they are rules written on a stone, that could jeopardize one’s success prospects at some point in time.

Hence begs the question: Are we to spend the already ‘scarce’ time we got chasing after that ‘opportune moment’ in life? When all our stars will perfectly align, and all our dreams and wishes come true? When we finally get the perfect man/woman, the perfect dream house, the perfect job, the perfect time to start a business, et cetera? Again, will ‘lady-luck’ actually find everyone on earth, or is she just reserved for a few ‘lucky’ individuals? To all these, I answer: I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what I know, believe, and try to practice:

Heartily and ungrudgingly, do the duty that lies nearest you as you wait for that perfect job. Use the little capital you have to begin a small business as you wait to make your perfect pitch to think tank investors and business angels. Practice benevolence using your little resources while waiting for the perfect moment when you’ll gift hundreds of thousands or millions to philanthropy and those in need. Endeavor to eat a simple healthy diet as you wait for the perfect time when you’ll finally dine on ‘sumptuous meals.’ Make your little house livable and enviable as you wait to inhabit the perfect dream house. 

Image source: iStock

I am not a prophet of doom, but we can probably die before experiencing the ‘perfect moment.’ Yet even if it happens, there’ll be no regrets, for we’ll have lived and thrived, not merely existed and survived. Equally, from my limited experience, I know seldom instances when the opportune time came at the first attempt. Therefore, keep trying, keep hoping, keep waiting and keep trusting that the Father of Lights above will grant your petitions if you remain perseverant.

Purpose to join me next week for the final episode in the series as I discuss the theme: The Paradox of Money. Till then, cheers good people to a week and a lifetime characterized by wisdom, endurance, and perseverance.

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