This is dedicated to two friends yesterday who served as muses for this article. The first friend offered a timely critique and the second friend used economy of time to suggest a topic to write on. Parenthetically, those who are unable to take constructive criticisms in life are doomed to atrophy for it is the critique of others that help us to grow and get better overtime. If everyone showered us with praise, we would not know which areas we need to get better in and, what’s worse, we will end up being subsumed by our own egos. To be honest, even the criticisms that are aimed to tear down instead of building us up can be helpful. To echo Katt Williams, if you don’t have haters in your life, you ain’t doing something right.
The first friend Liya noted that she loved reading what I wrote but that it would be best to cut the length down. “You write brilliantly but too long in my opinion” Liya noted without a malicious intent in her bone. To be honest, this is something a lot of my readers have noted in the past as well. Though I rebel at the thought of restricting what I have, what she said next made me reassess my stubborn unwillingness to change. “Expressing your thought with short, neat writing style is key depending on your audience—would say a must on social media”. It made me ponder, am I writing for me or am I writing for others? Is there a way to be more efficient with time and get my message across without saying so much.
The same day, I was talking to Samrawit at CSU and asked her to suggest a topic for me to write about. Without saying too much, she simply said “time”. I have believed this for a long time, the universe speaks to us through others. A homeless man once called me his angel when I gave him an encouraging word during a cold February night. In the same way, countless strangers in this journey called life have been my angels. So when two or more bring up the same topic, the notion of time and how to be efficient with it and to maximize our use of it, well then I take notice. So throughout the day, I spent my time reflecting on the notion of time and arrived at a conclusion. I think we have been looking at the concept of time wrong all along.
We view time as being linear, as if the past is disconnected from the present and the future is something intangible and beyond our reach. Thus, as we live in the present, we are told continuously to not live in the past and to always plan for the future. It is these twin crucibles, of avoiding regret by not living in the past and fearing failure by not maximizing our potential tomorrow, that bracket us in the grips of depression and anxiety. I’m not here to give a clinical lecture about mental health other to say this. Discounting the complex physiological functions of the brain—which I am not versed enough to feign some expertise in—this is what I have come to learn about depression and anxiety. Depression is regret over the past; anxiety is fear of the uncertainties that the future holds.
Depression and anxiety are amplified and magnified when we view time as a disjointed notion where the past, present and future are not interconnected. But what I have learned about life is that time is not static, we are byproducts of our past and what we do in the present is affects the future. I know that sounds logical but at times the emotion of sadness imbued by uncertainty and worries makes us reside in a perpetual state of paralysis. In time, the paralysis itself becomes a source of paralysis as fear begets fear and worry keeps on birthing worry. We become that which we focus upon so when we wake up daily thinking the worst, we become that which we fear as our lives become enveloped in hopelessness and despondence.
But here is what I have learned about life; just like a tree goes through a season of defoliating and bareness only to be renewed come spring with new blooms of life and abundance, we too go through our winters of discontent only to be reborn into a season of hopefulness. A while back ago, a chaplain was giving a devotion and mentioned the following words:
In our lives we go through winters and spring, through summers and fall, there is a time where we have little and will depend on others to lend kindness to us. There are other times where we go through seasons of harvest and we feed others with kindness.
This is life in a nutshell, duality is a rule we can’t escape from. Happiness only exists within the same paradigm as sadness. Blessings are manifested in the soil of distress. Love is found in the same space of hatred. We only appreciate the former of the last few truisms as long as the latter half of those statements are synthesized through experience. In this way, time is actually circular not linear. What we know today would not be possible if we did not go through the growing pains of the past. So regret in this sense is irrelevant, I would not have the wisdom I gained if I did not go through a season of foolishness. I would not be made aware of the love that floats around me like a magnificent butterfly if I did not go through the cocoon of loneliness and heartbreak.
It’s like this world is one big kaleidoscope where random events seem to make no sense. Yet if we pause and reflect, the randomness are all interwoven. This article was inspired by two random statements from two friends who don’t even know each other and live in two different states. Yet the wisdom they spoke inspired this article. So randomness is actually blessings that we only understand once uncertainty becomes a testimony of God’s abiding love and benevolence. I don’t speak of this in theory, what I write are based on the experiences I have gone through, wisdom gained through heartbreaks and tear stains. But I would not change a thing, I would not reverse time if God offered that chance, for the abundance I feel in my spirits now was only made possible because I went through my season of nothingness. Once lonely and enveloped in regret, I now write this article embraced by love and happiness. Time arrived after time but time never changed, my perspective changed once I realized that time is not random—time is a blessing regardless of our circumstances.
While we do our part to make this world better and fight injustice where ever it is being manifested, we can’t do so unless we spend our time planting seeds of love for we truly reap that which we sow. Fighting hatred with hatred is truly a waste of time the same with trolling trolls or taking on ignorance with yet more ignorance. The weakness of evil is it’s inverse, the only way to roll back the tides of antipathy and enmity is to be the opposite. As we commit to making this world better for us and future generations, let us defy the animosity around us by noticing the beauty in the midst of this world’s brokenness. For it will not profit is any to gaze into the navel of bleakness. This is not me saying look away from the madness that seems to be licking at the soul of this universe with the devil’s hot blazing tongue. Speak against malice but do so not with yet more malice, speak against malice with malice not at all but with hope and kindness. The revolution we have been waiting for will not arrive by way of guns or by brute force but through kindness and love and giving of our time charity towards our fellow brothers and sisters.
In the interest of time, let me wrap up this article with the following words. Regardless of the emotional state you are in at this moment—whether you are sad or overjoyed, loved or being cuddled by loneliness—do not be remorseful or fretful. You are supposed to go through this moment in order to get to the next point of your life. Do not have sorrow over the past nor be anxious over tomorrow, be mindful of this exact time for there is a lesson and an experience you are going to gain as you go through this phase in your life. Life is circular; just like a tree is born from a seed then grows over time only to return an offering of seed to the earth to start the cycle again, we too walk circuitous routes on our way to our purpose. This is the blessing of life, time after time, we grow as we go. #TimeAfterTime
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9
Stay tuned, a Ghion Cast is about to be aired to quickly discuss this article using a mix of music and words to give thanks on this Sabbath day to my creator who gave me the time and wisdom to write this. Until then, consider the video below a place holder until #TimeAfterTime is rendered and then published.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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