Pick your right moment | Sunday Observer

Pick your right moment

21 February, 2021

When you are feeling happy, loving, floating – these are the right moments when the door is very close. Just a knock will be enough. -Osho

Most of us try to meditate when we feel miserable, anxious, tensed or nervous. We are simply going against the current. You should try to meditate when the mind is calm and you feel happy, loving and floating. On some days we get up early in the morning full of zest, but we do not know the reason for our unusual happiness. Psychologists say something must have happened deep in the subconscious. In other words, something must have happened between us and the cosmos. Do not waste that time. This is the ideal time to meditate even for a few moments. If you feel some kind of harmony, that is another time to meditate. When there is harmony you should ride on it and the waves will take you to distant lands.

In an interview with a leading actor who is no longer among the living, I asked a stock question. What do you need to get ahead in life? Brains? Education? Energy? He shook his head and said, “Those things help to a certain extent. But there’s something more important.”

“What’s that?” I asked him.

“You should know the right moment,” he said.

“Right moment to do what?” I asked him.

“To act or not to act,” he said with confidence. “You should know the moment to speak or to remain silent. Then I realised that every actor worth his salt knows the value of timing which is an all-important factor not only for actors but also for others. You should know the right time to get a job, marry and settle down. When you fail to grasp the right time for such activities, you will be over the stipulated age to apply for a job or too old to marry.

William Blake

I have met several men and women who did not know the value of right timing. An editor of a women’s tabloid confessed that she could not get married at the right time due to work. When she turned 70 she told an interviewer, “I’ve missed the bus!” The actor was right. If you can learn to recognise the right moment when it comes, and act swiftly before it goes away, the problems of life become vastly simplified. William Blake wrote:

“If you trap the moment before it’s ripe,

The tears of repentance you’ll certainly wipe;

But if once you let the ripe moment go,

You can never wipe off the tears of woe.”

Some misguided young people think that they can do their higher studies later in life. Those who repeatedly postpone their studies will never be able to find a lucrative job. When they meet with failure later on in life they are often disheartened by what seems to be a relentlessly hostile world. Some elderly people make the right effort when they decide to read for a degree, but they are doing so at the wrong moment.

Smaller failings

In most developed countries the divorce rate is higher than that in developing countries. A divorce court judge in a US court observed, “Oh, these quarrelling couples if only they’d realise that there are times when everyone’s threshold of irritability is low, when a person can’t stand nagging or criticism – or even good advice! If married partners would just take the trouble to study each other’s moods, and know when to air a grievance or when to show affection, the divorce rate would be cut in half.”

A friend of mine asked his wife which of his smaller failings annoyed her the most. “Your tendency,” she said promptly, “to wait until we’re about to walk into a party before telling me that my hair is untidy or my dress didn’t look quite right.” The husband did not know the right time to tell his wife that her hair was untidy or her dress did not look quite right.

Good manners are often nothing but good timing. We are often unsure as to what the ‘right’ frame for the moment is. That uncertainty supports a minor industry of experts, columns like ‘Ask Aruni’ or ‘Dear Abby.’ Social schemas are embedded and hidden in the fabric of group life. What is more annoying than to be interrupted in mid-anecdote? Some of us do not know the moment we should remain silent.

The right moment should not be confused with the auspicious moment decided by an astrologer. It is practically impossible to do everything at an auspicious moment. However, if you know the right moment to do something, that is more than enough to succeed in life.

Ear for music

Good timing is not a gift, something you are born with, like an ear for music. Time is a skill that could be acquired by anyone who cared to make an effort. But there are a few requirements to learn the art of good timing. In the first place, keep yourself constantly aware of how decisive timing can be in human affairs. William Shakespeare was right when he wrote, “There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.”

The next step is to make a pact with yourself never to act or speak when driven by anger, fear, hurt, jealousy or resentment. They are emotional spanners that can wreck the most carefully developed timing mechanism.

Once, I lost my temper when a colleague criticised my work. I used some harsh words in response. Later I realised that what she said was correct and offered my apologies. The celebrated Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

Powers of anticipation

To master the skill of good timing, you have to sharpen your powers of anticipation. This is because the future is not a closed book. Much of what is going to happen is determined by what is happening now. But the problem is that some people cannot make a conscious effort to project themselves beyond the present. They are also unable to gauge future possibilities and act accordingly.

The look-ahead capacity is important in running a household. For instance, you cannot rely on the supply of uninterrupted electricity all the time. Suddenly there will be a power cut. How many of us are ready to face such a situation? If you are looking for candles when the lights go out, you have no capacity for looking ahead.

The art of good timing includes knowing the moment when present action will eliminate future trouble.

The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote, “The strangest of all warriors are these two – time and patience.” Even the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “If the single man plans himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abides, the huge world will come round to him.” It is not easy to acquire patience because it is a subtle blend of wisdom and self-control.

Even if you wish to donate something to charity, find the right time to do it. It is useless donating dry rations to farmers when they are reaping their harvest. Similarly, do not donate clothes to those who can afford to buy them. As the Old Testament says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

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