#MNR: Time is the [Ultimate] Illusion
“And I switched my motto. Instead of saying ‘fuck tomorrow’ that buck that bought a bottle coulda struck the lotto…”
Nasir Jones, “Life’s a Bitch”
“…but time is the illusion…”
Buckshot, “Night Riders”
“Eventually, I knew I’d run into Hi-Teknology. It was only a matter of time like centuries.”
Talib Kweli, “Memories Live”
Time is the ultimate illusion. I’ll say it again. Time is the ultimate illusion. Most of us tend to make the huge assumption that whatever we don’t do or put off today can be done tomorrow. It’s a general rule of thumb. And more than 99 times out of 100, it’s very true. Shit, you can put a task off for days/weeks/months/years at a time. Depending on what it is, that’s perfectly fine. You can still accomplish what needs to be accomplished – in time.
I love the Outkast song “In Due Time” off the Soul Food soundtrack. “Just keep all faith in me. Don’t act impatiently. You’ll get where you need to be, in due time. Even when things are slow, hold on and don’t let go. I’ll give you what I owe, in due time.” Big Boi, Cee-Lo Green, and Andre 3000 surely didn’t lie. This mentality is generally the best approach to life. Don’t let the constraints of time drive you insane. Do what you can do when you can do it. Just make progress. I like to say, “a fan a day.” If you stay consistent and persistent, you will one day achieve your goal. Prayerfully.
Ok, ok. I gave y’all my best Les Brown/Robert T. Youngblood motivational talk. Now it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes. Roll that shit up. Light that shit up. Come take this ride with me.
One of our biggest miscalculations as humans is assuming we “have all the time in the world” as Shareon used to say. I love the beginning of the last “act” of American Beauty, the part where Kevin Spacey (eww) is jogging and (as third person omniscient narrator) says something like no one wakes up in the morning thinking this is going to be the day I die. And it’s very true, outside of MF who woke up with death on their minds, whether it be because of (combat) war, living in a war zone (literally or figuratively), extreme paranoia, or a strong inclination toward suicide (I think I covered every base). But think about it. No one (who’s not delusional) wakes up on their Pac “Me Against the World” on the daily. Most of us, irrespective of socioeconomic status, look at a new day as an opportunity to accomplish any and everything under the sun. It is – until it isn’t. Unfortunately, death is certain, and in many cases sudden. My queen’s bestie (who happens to be my folk as well) lost a close family member a week or so ago, an individual whom my queen was acquaintances with. Bestie is devastated (love you Adelia; praying for you and the family). The deceased had just returned from a vacation and hadn’t even made it home yet. It’s a tragedy in every sense, as multiple lives were lost. I’m certain no one in that “situation” initially had death on their minds. God bless all whose lives were lost and affected. Rest in paradise Willette Marshall.
At times I reflect on my dead homies. Ten were fatally wounded; nine died from firearms and one was stabbed to death. I lost a friend to a motorcycle accident (a blood cousin too, sadly). I lost another two to automobile accidents. One of the healthiest and toughest hombres I knew (love you Kente) dropped dead without explanation. I lost two to suicide. I lost one by freak accident. Rarely do I think about all of them at the same time; it’s mostly isolated thoughts. At times, when I think about the guys, I wonder what was on their minds the entire day leading up to the moment they perished. I also wonder what their final thoughts were as death was imminent. I wonder if they had enough time to make peace with themselves and their God. Ultimately, I wonder what their precise thoughts were the moment they realized they were out of time. At times, these ponderings haunt me. I suppose they always will…until I see them again.
I don’t want the focus of this blog to be on death as pertaining to time and it’s mishandling. Death is certain, but it’s also the extreme. Many times, it’s not the worst outcome. Shit, most of the time, death isn’t even the consequence. Time can also be detrimental to those who have the inability to escape their past. They become their own victims. In no way am I trying to downplay or diminish trauma, especially when it’s the result of some sort of abuse. I know the feeling all too well. I’m referring to all the folk who are prisoners of time because of personal failure, as well as those who are prisoners of time because of the wrongdoing(s) of others.
When it comes to personal failure, I could (literally) write a book on self-degradation. I was the poster boy for taking ALL my Ls to heart and wallowing in self-pity. Progress took time, but the shift in mentality began with an OG giving me some of the soundest advice I’ve ever received. He told me that it was alright to beat myself up, but to do it with a feather. Ponder that. Seriously. Pause this blog for 60 seconds and ponder that shit. It’s mind blowing. I also learned the two rules of a pity party. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with throwing a pity party, as long as you keep it brief and don’t invite anyone else. These tidbits of wisdom are a must when attempting to overcome personal failure. It’s okay to fall on your face 99 times, so long as you get your ass up 99 times. The 100th time may in fact be a charm. Regardless, take the great, late Coach Jim Valvano’s prudent advice: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” As long as you’re alive, you have the opportunity to improve your circumstances. Carpe diem. Remember what Nas said about that dollar.
The second part is for the many of us who are still pissed off at someone for some shit that happened in Spring 1988. Of course, we’re not talking murder or anything perverse. A MF mighta stolen your Full Force tape. It coulda been over bad business on a used Datsun sale. It coulda been because someone didn’t give you your proper credit after you bust your ass for the cause. It doesn’t matter. Let that shit go. Why? I’m glad you asked. In plenty of cases, you’re just allowing the next MF to live rent-free in your swollen ass head. Your anger/hatred ends up taking over and consuming your thoughts. You grow more bitter over time. Without even realizing it, you’ve inadvertently ruined relationships, drastically changed others’ opinions of you, and even made yourself physically sick. And guess what? That MF you’ve dedicated your whole life (WAY TOO DAMN MUCH OF YOUR TIME) to hating is living their BEST life. Shit, 9 times outta 10 they haven’t even given you or the situation a second thought. Then you cross paths years later. They look spectacular while you have let the situation stress you to the point you look beat down (Bruh Man voice) – the stress eventually consumes you. It just doesn’t add up. It makes no sense whatsoever. Whatever it is, let that silly shit go. Yes, I’m talking to you. And you, and you, and you…
The last point I’ll make about time focuses on redemption. We all should embody the sentiment that everyday we’re living is a day we’re blessed (because it’s true). Regardless of whether you’ve made one big mistake or a metric ton of mistakes, survival means you (in most cases) have the opportunity to amend things. I implore you to forgive yourself as well as others. Any and all ground you’ve lost can be made up. Redemption and achievement are very possible. When Senator Mark Warner spoke at my university commencement way, way back in May 2000, he told us he’d made and lost a small fortune. TWICE! He took his tumbles, but he never gave up on himself. He stayed the course. If you’re wondering how things turned out for him, Wikipedia the shit. SPOILER: he’s doing his damn thing. Been doing his damn thing for well over two decades. He used time to his advantage. In a parallel reality, so did my big brother. Beloved read 10K books while incarcerated. He can hold an intelligent conversation with anyone about damn near anything. You can do whatever you want to do if you try and keep on trying. And believe. Keep on pushing. We gon make, I swear my nigga.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG