If not now, then when?

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

For the last few months, I’ve read an entry a day in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.” I bought the book, published in 1995, many years ago at the Vicksburg District Library Book Sale, followed it for a time, and then forgot about it. After it hid for a decade behind some craft supplies in a closet, the book resurfaced this summer during one of my cleaning and sorting sessions. I now remember how much I enjoyed the one-page entries which align with the calendar year.

“If Not Now, Then When?” is the title of the August 30 entry. The passage that follows focuses on procrastination, which is, of course, a natural follow-up to this phrase.
Yes, procrastination has caused me stress, especially in my younger years. I remember a poster when we were kids that said, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” I admit, that mindset sometimes appealed to me. So many other activities seemed more important or more fun than what I needed to take care of. I often paid the price with long nights writing papers or finishing a project.

Eventually, I had to let go of those habits. As I grew older, I found raising a family and practicing procrastination didn’t work well, and I am now much better at managing my time and obligations.
“If not now, then when” also encourages concentrating on the “here and now” and the people around us. It underlines the importance of showing gratitude and kindness to people we encounter every day.

I remember my mother saying, “You never know how your words might affect someone.” I imagine this was probably after a heated exchange with one of my brothers or some display of some teenage sass.

Yes, our words can certainly negatively impact someone. We can all recall the sting of criticism or harsh comments. And most of us regret the use of some of our own words and the wounds they caused.

I prefer to focus on the positive effects our words can have.

How can we improve someone’s day? Where can we make a difference?

Opportunities are all around us.

Perhaps instead of being frustrated as I stand in line at the grocery store, I should notice people around me. Maybe encourage a young father or mother? Perhaps offer a smile and kind words to a frazzled cashier?

If not now, then when?

Do you remember this phrase from a popular daytime drama?

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Then there was that image of the sand running quickly through the hourglass. That didn’t concern me as a child, but now that I’m older, the sand seems to be running more and more quickly.

Yes, seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years are slipping past.

If not now, then when?

Exactly! The time to speak kindly, to reach out to others, to make a difference in this world is now.

It’s a Fine Life.

Leave a Reply