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I have lost my footing many times as I stumbled in the dark - by T.G.

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Time is like the wind, evanescent, the beauty and brevity of it we must all recognise

'A' level student-inmate from institution TM1

Consolation Prize

Time is but a measure of seconds, minutes, and hours, which drag into days and years. An abstract concept that men have tried to grasp since the beginning of time. Throughout the ages, men have sought to manipulate and wield time, but time bends not to the will of men. It moves tirelessly like the drifting of the wind, going as it pleases. A silent witness to the triumph and downfall of mankind, the rise and fall of civilisations, of the dark ages and scientific progress, and of birth and death. It is also the reminder of good and bad times. We learn important lessons from these times that changes us forever. We are all under the illusion that time is within our control and have boasted of "killing time". Have we really killed time? In fact, it is the opposite. The passage of time causes death to come to us all eventually and any attempt to prevent or delay the inevitable is futile. It is imperative that we all understand that our time here is fleeting, only then can we treasure the time that we have and live life to the fullest. 

My elder brother once asked me this random question when we were watching TV. We were just kids at that point of time. It did not make sense then, but as I go through life, it became relatable. He asked, "What if you were given two choices and asked to choose between these two would you choose $5 or 5 minutes?" Back then, having extra money meant I could indulge in more of my favourite candies or snacks. The kid in me could not think of anything to do with the extra time. I quipped that I would choose $5. I thought I was smart for choosing the extra money.

He replied, "If it was up to me, I would choose the 5 minutes instead." And he reasoned, "So what if I have extra $5 but no time to spend it? 5 minutes would mean everything to me if I was running out of time." He paused before continuing. "If I have 5 minutes more, I might even make more than $5. Time is more valuable than money. It is priceless. You can earn money with time, but you cannot buy time with money. The wisdom of his reply was lost on me then. In retrospect, he was not looking to dispense sagely advice. We were just engaged in conversation. I have no idea why I particularly remember this memory from childhood, but now and then, it resurfaces from the deep recesses of my mind to haunt me. On hindsight, my brother was wise beyond his years and understood the importance of time, and this was reflected in the choices that he has made in life. 

I have never lived in fear because I knew I would die another day. I spared myself the trouble of living out my life according to wisdom and virtue. I gave in to debauchery and my priorities were jumbled - important matters that required my immediate attention took a back seat. Convinced that time was my ally, I failed to see that procrastination was the thief of time and it was slowly stealing away the most valuable asset to me, and that was time on my clock. I took for granted the times I had with my loved ones without realising that time was also slipping away from them. I always thought that there was another tomorrow to make it up to them, but I was wrong. As the adage goes, “You never know what you have got until you lose it”.

I have lost my footing many times as I stumbled in the dark. I was trapped, lost and the concept of time was foreign to me. It seemed to me there was no way my out and I was destined to be stuck in this loop of darkness. As a result, my life started falling apart. I lost my direction in life, my purpose, time and slowly I started losing the people dear to me. The love of life left me, I lost my dear uncle to cancer, and my beloved grandmother passed away during my time behind these walls. I lost a lot during that period and my losses were insurmountable. There was so much pain, anguish and regret and it consumed me. If it were not for divine intervention, I would have continued spiraling down this labyrinth of darkness. 

Up to this point, I have nothing to show except the promises I never kept. Lying with my back on the concrete floor. I mused. All the wrong decisions and repeated mistakes I have made in life led me here. Some mistakes are trivial and inconsequential, while others have serious repercussions which in turn lead to regret. And then I had an epiphany. Life is short and time, fleeting. Time waits for no man. Coming to that realisation, I began to see the terror in no tomorrow. 

I pray that my moment of enlightenment was not too late. Even though I have failed and learnt lessons the hard way, I hope to make good use of the remainder of whatever time I have left - to forge stronger bonds and build happier memories with my loved ones. Especially my mother. Only realising now that time has painted gray streaks in her hair and lines on her face, and like me she has aged. Time will prevail. If I continue on this path of destruction, I will certainly lose her like everyone else and add on to my lot of regrets. 

Finally, I begin to understand that time is like the wind, evanescent, the beauty and brevity of it we must all recognise and cherish. One moment it is here, the next it is gone. It is relentless and oblivious to the woes of men. 

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