There was a time, as a teenager in Ìbàdàn, forming big boys, I asked my Americana mom to send money to buy certain luxuries, and she said no, and that I shouldn’t worry as I would later be able to afford those luxuries on my own. I remember being furious at her and responding to her and my elder sister that timing matters.
Growing up in Nigeria, we loved video-games like most kids. On rare occasions we’d borrow a friend’s Playstation overnight and engage in a vigil of game playing and first thing in the morning we’ll return the games with sad eyes. Today I have Play Station 3 (or is it 4?) tucked away inside my wife’s ottoman. I only bring it out once or twice every six months and that’s when I have visitors who liked to play. I’m too busy.
I can afford the latest Playstation right now, but the enjoyment I’d get from it pale significantly to what I got when I was a teenager. This brings me to my point on time and timing.
A few weeks back, a relative asked me to talk to her husband who is hardworking and making quite a good money but not really serious about completing the house he’s building for the family. Whenever the wife brings it up, he says she’s an hurry. The wife said, “Is it when we’re old and unable to enjoy the house, or take care of it, would be the right time?”
I am sympathetic to the wife’s view. Timing is important in our lives, developmentally, financially, psychologically and aesthetically. While it is not good to rush things, it is equally important to have a sense of urgency on certain important things in life when there are means. Deferment of joys and pleasure sometimes might mean total negation of it when one is not being reflective.
For example, let’s consider a man who has the basics to become a husband and father, but for shallow reasons postpones till the age 45. The joys of fatherhood, pain, and pleasure – ceteris paribus – of a man who married early at 25 can’t be compared to the man at 45, who’s getting married at a time when he’s about to hit midlife crisis. I know this is a murky area, but there are indications that biology doesn’t like unnecessary deferment either.
This tendency can be seen in some immigrants too, who live shabby lives, in distressed public apartment housing, despite earning well, in the name of saving large amounts of money to build big, big houses in Africa when the reality is they may live only little of their lives in those African houses or none at all. But because of deferment, they’ll forbid themselves and their children proper living that matches their income.
Take the time now to play with your young children despite their enormous energy. Let them climb you. Sit on you. Make funny faces with them, because before you know it, they’re teenagers who believe they know better than you.
What is that thing that you can and should do now, but you’re finding excuses to defer? Is it going for graduate studies, but you keep telling yourself only when all your children are grown? Is it buying a good car, but you keep calculating how much cement you can buy in Nigeria with that? Or is it repenting from a bad behavior – like missing salah, but you keep saying when you retire or go to hajj you will do better?
Timing is important, my friend. Do what you can now. Enjoy yourself today. Learn today. Love today. Because even if tomorrow does come, the capacity to fully enjoy the experience might have gone.
This night of light drizzles I think of time and timings and the addendum to a Yorùbá adage: aṣọ má ń yẹ èèyàn ni igbakan ju igbakan lọ.