If not Now, When? / Hillel the Elder

I don’t know about you, but I often feel life moves too fast, and that I don’t have time to do the things I want to do (at least not as well as I want to do them). It’s easy to let such thoughts paralyse us, to get caught in the mangle that is the daily grind and lose sight of our dreams and ambitions, but in doing that we are failing ourselves in the worst possible way. Because, contrary to what some of us seem to believe, we won’t be around forever. Far from it, we are on this earth for but a fleeting moment.

A wise Jewish man called Hillel the Elder once said: “If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when? Say not ‘When I have free time I shall study’; for you may perhaps never have any free time.”

Despite being centuries old his message is crystal clear: None of us have the luxury of forever. If we want something we must make it happen, not in the future but RIGHT NOW. Only then will we be able to look back on our lives when the end comes and say, with joyful hearts and voices: “I have no regrets.”

image

Thoughts, as they happen

It’s quarter past eight in the evening. Outside the wind is raging almost as much as the commuters who were forced to endure today’s tube strike, and will have to do the same tomorrow. Only tomorrow’s nightmare commute will be wet as well as windy, for the weather reports speak of more torrential rain and flooding on the way. It is February. It is cold. We Brits are not, it must be said, at our best under these conditions. And yet we know them all too well.

I’m sitting in a state of panic-induced inertia; surrounded by ‘to do’ lists with a thousand thoughts careering around my head, like rockets let off by mistake at a fireworks display. In this state it’s hard to think in a rational way; what to do first, where to start. So tonight I’ve taken a new approach and lit a candle. Apple pie scented. As I type this I’m watching it burn, the wax becoming molten, like lava: My own Vesuvius. But when will it erupt?

Life is like a Sudoku puzzle; you reach a point when you think you’ve got it sussed, and then you realise that you haven’t and have to start all over again. So many questions, yet so few answers. So many options, yet so little time. I sometimes wonder if the God in whom I place my faith of there being an afterlife is watching us from Heaven and laughing at the tangles that we get ourselves into, weaving thread upon thread into impenetrable webs; fortresses of our own making.

My hands are cold.

Still, the candle burns.