I RECENTLY saw a post on 9gag that said something to the essence of “2017 is more than halfway over—let that sink in.”
Now to the proverbial grasshoppers who have been whiling the time away while the ant was working hard, that’s kind of a scary realization. 365 days is more than enough time to accomplish a few things, and I myself would be more than a little disappointed if the 2017 version of me was strangely similar to the 2016 version. But regardless of the things we have done, time slowly trudges forward and shows no favorites for anyone.
That can actually be a great thing for some people. Most of us want to master something now, but we have to realize that the passage of time, coupled with our hardworking efforts, is the best recipe to be an expert at something.
Just recently I’ve begun to read Chinese fiction focusing on Chuck Norris/Wong Fei Hong-type of heroes (an extension of my anime-loving self). The common thread for all of these heroes is, though they have some sort of advantage at the start, it still takes them decades to become experts at their craft.
I realize that these are fantasy tales and that I won’t be shooting battle qi out of my hands anytime soon, but I believe these stories also reflect a base human desire—to find out what one is on earth for—and the inherently arduous challenges one must go through in order to achieve that.
My personal favorite example of someone who used time to his advantage was the last shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. At just 22 years old and long before his ascension to the throne, Yoshinobu was placed under house arrest for two years by his political enemies as a means to derail his promising career.
His response? He spent the better part of those two years learning how to paint, carpentry, understanding the physiology of humans and animals, and reading a voluminous amount of books. As a result, people began comparing him to the legendary Tokugawa Ieyasu (known as a shogun skilled in the more muscular, physical arts) while taking note of Yoshinobu’s prowess in the finer arts of history and speaking, which Ieyasu never possessed. Later in his life, Yoshinobu remarked that he owed his extensive knowledge to his political enemies.
Is it bad to set yearly goals? Of course not. These are small and medium-sized goals for us to keep improving ourselves. But for certain goals, like being proficient in an instrument or being an athlete for a competitive sport, time is certainly needed to gain insight to the most intrinsic parts of the craft.
Let’s not go crazy, then, over the fact that 2017 is almost ending. As long as we’re hustling, working hard, trying to get better at our crafts, time should be our friend, not our enemy.
As for me, it’s time to get back to my Chuck Norris/Wong Fei Hong book.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 04, 2017.
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