“Time and Tide wait for none”, they scream. By and large, they mean only that ‘Time is Money’ and any time which is not spent in the pursuit of earning money, or equipping yourself to earn more money, is wasted. Why, even Billy, the immortal Bard of Avon, says “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” There ye go. Where we only considered time as money, the Bard had to bring in Tide also to lead you to money…err…fortune, not just your itty-bitty few thousand bucks.
I used to think that I did understand the importance of timeliness when I was a child. Like, if I am late reaching home when the tiffin of the day was masala dosa, the odds of getting more dosa than masala, so to speak, were very high. It is one of the tougher things in resource management to identify the exact quantity of masala for all the dosas that will be consumed by the family in the day. Especially because it is impossible to precisely estimate the number of dosas each person would consume on any given day. Likewise, going late to class when some birthday boy was distributing chocolates was a good way to ensure you maintained your hourglass figure – because, of chocolates, you will see none except in other people’s mouths.
And, then, I see all this ‘Time is money’ and all that rot and realize that I had got it all wrong. Like my parents were quick to let me know. Apparently, at school, I was supposed to get the maximum marks. Learning was incidental, though it was sort of assumed that marks meant learning but, more importantly, marks meant engineering or medical seats which meant that I could make money when I grew up. And on to college where, again, I had to concentrate on marks because marks meant a better job (Or even job, since not all of us end up in IIT where a job was a given and it was only a battle for the best job). And onwards to seeking ‘marks’, though it was called a good Confidential Report, at the job so that you got promoted. And so on and so on. Time and Tide are relentless, I tell you.
Me, I was born kinky. (You know that? Good for you but why are you assuming that I am interested in the extent of your General Knowledge? Do I look like a quiz master to you?) I mean, the way I saw it, school was the only time when I could be carefree, making friends and hanging out with them without worrying about who was trying to take advantage of me. When I neither had to bother about earning money or about where my next meal was coming from. College was the only time I had money that I could spend by my wish, without the bother of having to earn it, independently travel and have fun with friends, though, yes, the Damocles’ sword of having to get a job at the end of it hung above the head.
The early days of work, though you did have to earn the money, was the period when you felt the richest (unless, of course, you had a rich father showering money like confetti while at college – which I did not) since you had no responsibilities making calls on your money. (Though, of course, admittedly I lived at a time when there were no personal loans on offer at all and, thus, I did not HAVE to buy a motorbike or a car and suffer through EMIs. After all, when NOBODY could do it, there is no peer pressure pushing you).
The early days of your marriage are the only time you get to feel romantic. For, after all, once it becomes routine, it ceases to be fun and devolves into perpetual wrangles about who does the dishes and who washes the curtains. It is only when your children are young that they are the most fun to be with. Once they hit their teens, you stop being their hero and start becoming the stupid heartless dictator against whom they are in perpetual revolt. By the time you guys sign the peace accord, they vamoose to college or work.
Time also sets limits on what you can do. You cannot mountaineer if you try starting on it when you are 40. Even if you are physically able to, your job will not permit long holidays and you will not want to risk the even longer ones if you happen to get injured. What will happen to those EMIs, then? It is a rare person who starts learning to fiddle after 50. When your co-students are in their twenties and you have become unaccustomed to being laughed at for fumbling attempts at a new skill…
When, with age, your ability to enjoy new things – food or whatever – has declined and you seek the comfort of the familiar, you are unlikely to love the idea of world travel. Oh, it’s grand to put out the pics on Instagram and start every conversation with “When I was in Vienna…” but the only way you are actually going to enjoy the travel itself is if you have done it before and are familiar with it, not if you are doing it for the first time at 60. At 60, your reaction is more likely to be, “Kya Vienna-Shienna! Dang ka daal-chawal bhi nahin milta“, if you are inclined to be truthful about how you feel.
Yeah, Time and Tide wait for none. And that is as true about all the experiences of life, not just for making money. If you keep taking tide after tide only to ensure that it leads you to fortune, you’ll probably drown in wealth that you have no use for.
Or just drown your chance of LIVING in the humdrum of mere existence.