Time marches on, waiting for no one, answerable to none, and never to return. Precious as it is, it cannot be hoarded. It will quietly slip by, unless we are prepared to appreciate its value and accrue benefit from it.
Time deserves respect, and saying that it should not be spent in trivial pursuits is perhaps stating the obvious. It is, however, important enough to deserve introspection, with genuine concern about how productively it is being utilized. Has the time that has passed been used gainfully; is the present being maximized; and will we continue to make effective use of this powerful resource? Successful people understand its significance and are constantly striving to do something meaningful with it, while mediocrity befalls those who persistently waste time.
Managing time properly, we all accept, is essentially for our own interest, but the broader social implications of our attitude towards it cannot be ignored. Respect for time reflects proper upbringing, and is a crucial measure of decent behavior. Smart people are considerate enough to realize that time matters equally to those we interact with, and that it behoves us to consciously deliver on our commitments, be they for work or social. Making someone wait is blatantly rude, for no matter how graciously forgiving the offended may appear to be, the negative impression of habitual tardiness can never be erased. Time-keeping pervades all aspects of our lives, and the chaos created by everyone ignoring it would certainly grind our very existence to a halt.
Lifestyle gurus remind us to invest in time to reap benefit from it. Use it well. Take pride in the knowledge that you have something positive to show for it; and relish the joy of doing whatever we do, be it obligatory, recreational or for charity, with whole-hearted commitment.
Charity and good deeds have to be done now and without hesitation. Time moves ahead and delaying acts of kindness is unhelpful. True, we all have pressing demands to deal with, but no less important is the time we should devote to serving the less fortunate. Time and tide wait for no man they say, but as ultimately we remain responsible for our actions, it would be futile to aimlessly squander this divine gift. A measure of life’s accomplishments is not how long we have lived, but what we have done with it. Misusing it is almost a sin, and by ‘killing time’ doing nothing of substance is perhaps a grave injustice that we are doing to ourselves.
Achievers plan and organize their time efficiently. In the words of President Kennedy, they use it as a tool, not as a crutch. And as succinctly noted by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, the acclaimed 18th century wit: ‘Know the true value of time; snatch, seize and enjoy every moment of it; no idleness, no laziness, no procrastination. Never put off till tomorrow that you can do today.’
It would indeed be prudent to remind ourselves of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) advice on utilizing time in the best manner: ‘Take advantage of five matters before five other matters; your youth before you become old; your health before you fall sick; your wealth before you become poor; your freetime before you become pre-occupied; and your life before your death.’ While the undercurrent of this powerful message is essentially time management, over committing it is equally serious. Sometimes there is a need for saying no, as falling prey to too many obligations can be detrimental to one’s health, and to the quality of whatever it is we are doing.
During this blessed month Muslims everywhere will strictly and vigourously adhere to set times for prayers and breaking their daily fasts. Then, let this month be the inspiration for permanently adopting this disciplined approach to our daily lives.
Finally, let us not forget the need to find and enjoy leisure time. There should be no guilt in pursuing clean and legitimate pleasures, for these can indeed be therapeutic. And, of course, find time for yourself. Inculcate a lifestyle that embraces good deeds, maintaining a healthy exercise regime, sleeping regular hours, reading books and listening to music. But always let the sincere practice of your faith, and fulfilling its obligations, be your moral backbone.
The lesson is indeed simple. When the bell tolls time, be ready for it with a smile.
By Aziz Mamuji