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The Right Moment Will Never Come

June 28, 2014

Let me tell you a short story, good friends.

Last night, at a charming dinner with friends, a certain young man received a compliment on his blog from a lady. The lady made an offhand remark, and the gentleman with confidence and assurance replied. He said that of course he could get a post for the lady up by the end of the morrow, and there were smiles all around.

The next day the gentleman, dilly-dallying about a little too much, eventually forced himself to sit down and do some work. What post to write he asked? The gentleman looked at little scribblings he’d made, ideas to jot before they floated away. One of them had a few more notes than the others. ‘The Right Moment Will Never Come’ he read. Confident, he began.

But it did not go so well. He could not seem to write well. ‘People waiting’ he tried as an anaphora. High minded talk of noble ideas… of contradictory ideas he realised. Yes, those prepared notes were actually more suited to slightly different topics. One was accurate, but the other was about seizing the day, another about the tale of Susan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Seemingly all lose ends. Exasperated – and with better things to do – the gentleman went off to go do other things.

It clearly wasn’t the right moment for him. He’d just have to wait.

——–

A common tale, wouldn’t you say? The gentleman, like anyone, merely wished to tackle the problem with his full attention. Surely, we don’t want people to be tackling problems with minimal attention? You say we don’t? Yes, that’s quite reasonable, isn’t it? Reassuring too. Yes, its quite reasonable to just wait for the right moment.

I’m sorry, but that’s an insidious trap.

This notion that the perfect moment will come is predicated on two very flawed assumptions:

  1. Perfection appears randomly, instead of being created

The notion of waiting forever implies that circumstances will just change and change until finally – us having done nothing – perfection will arrive. But, what causes that change? The winds? The seasons? The heavens? I do not deny the influence of these things. People do not control the seas they swim in, nor captain the world. But people still can choose what direction to swim in, and fight against the tide. They may, as agents, cause change. People create those changing circumstances that bring about ‘perfection’ .

Just like you can create your own luck and create the person you will become, so too can you fashion ‘perfect moments’ .

You cannot rely on the tide to pull you to safety. Perhaps it will, and perhaps the right moment may come. But I would swim. I would, if I were you, intentionally drive what happens, and try to make things happen. Act, instead of react.

  1. We can recognise perfection

But let’s say perfection does occur with no effort on our behalf. ‘Perfection occurs at 0521 hours on the 21st July’ a dispassionate observer, with hindsight and complete objectivity might observe. But we are not that observer. We are in those moments. And in those moments we don’t think things are perfect. You’re tired, and decide to laze about to rest. You’ve finished a great paper, and decide to wallow away the days instead of doing what you said you’d do come the perfect moment.

If you spend 90% of your life waiting for the right moment, and forever casting your agency to the wind, then your agency shall wither away, until finally, you cannot even act in perfect moments. You cannot hope to wake up one day and be born anew, a perfect person. Who you become is shaped by how you live your life day by day. If you live shirking action, your agency will atrophy.

So, I don’t think that waiting for the right moment is a good idea. There is, perhaps, some small chance it will come. But there is a far greater chance it won’t occur, or you won’t be able to seize it, unless you act when circumstances aren’t perfect.

This is not to say that waiting is a crime. It most certainly is not. I firmly believe that there are poor moments to intervene, to ask questions, to act. There’s a whole range of good to bad moments to do any action. Like the person who comforts another when a relative has died, instead of giving them a stern rebuke about not quite cleaning the dishes properly. Of course these things exist. And you’ve got to recognise this range.

But the range does not extend to perfect moments. Nor should this range of moments be an excuse for inaction or imperfection. Live now. Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.

And, your intentional actions now will determine your future. They will create the environment which lend themselves to good moments, not bad.

—————-

The gentleman had finished preparing for a 50th birthday party. He still had a little time. He thought back to the title of that unfinished post.

The Right Moment Will Never Come.

And yet, he had stopped typing because the ideas weren’t flowing. He’d rationalised away his inaction by saying it wasn’t the right moment. How hypocritical.

Breaking his promise to the lady wouldn’t do. It was time to act. But how to progress, to merge those conflicting ideas? Perhaps a story instead…

He began to type.

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