A New Book
Happy New Year 2015 to you reading this column/article today. Indeed it is a great honor to be back here sharing my thoughts with you but above all, I am humbled that you always take time to read what I share. I hope this year you will share more of your feedback with me and that you will share the articles you read with your circles too.
To start the year I’d like us to revisit my school days, when I was still a student …..
I remember when we were in school we had one lesson in a week where we spent at least 2 hours in the school library devouring literature. Those days we didn’t have digital libraries like some schools now have, neither were we reading books via the latest handheld gadgets. We used to read hard copy books that were so worn out from being read by so many students that sometimes the page numbers were not even visible. All the same for those of us who loved reading we used to cherish those moments. It is from those days that I developed a reading culture and needless to say, that became one of my hobbies.
Together with my friends, we made it a competition in the sense that we used to compete against each other to see who would read the most novels within the shortest time possible. We started with books that had between 100 to 200 pages then slowly graduated to 300 - 400 pages, on and on until eventually we started reading books that had over 800 pages, all within a span of 5 days. The competition was so crazy that sometimes we would read novels throughout the night resulting with us fighting sleep for the rest of the next day.
Sometimes we would get so engrossed especially when reading those romantic novels known as Mills and Boon that we would be tempted to read them while the teacher was in class. You have no idea how joyful we were whenever a teacher would miss a class. If I compare those days with now, I think novels were the equivalent of TV Series, where you get so addicted that all you can think about is what will happen on the next episode. This addiction causes you to do crazy things such as sitting up all night forgetting that you have to stay up all day the next day. Talk about wrong choices, or is it misplaced priorities? All the same, a great culture was born in me then that has continued to grow and develop in me till today. After school I joined public libraries and reading clubs just to continue with this hobby, and later on in life I started putting together my own library.
Speaking of libraries, the one downside we had about public libraries (I don’t know about now) is that you had to pay for every day you returned your book late. You see what we used to do is create a novel-club say of six girls. Each one of those girls would borrow a book from the library and after she finishes reading it, she would exchange it with another girl from the same reading circle. The thing is we used to be given only one week to return the books, meaning in order to read all those books, you needed to do nothing else for the whole week except read books. I guess the advantage about this was that we developed very fast reading skills because failure to return the books on time like I said meant we had to pay fines and for some of us, we didn’t have that money to waste since even being a member of any library and affording to pay the membership fees was a miracle in itself.
I know by now you must be wondering what this has to do with you. Well, it is from this library experience that I’d like to derive my first message of the year 2015.
At the beginning of last year (I mean 2014), each one of us was given a book by our Chief Librarian, i.e. God. The only difference is that this book was not one for you to read but one for you to write in. Each one of us got a copy of this blank book and to ensure that everything was balanced out, the Chief Librarian ensured that each book contained 365 pages. He then gave us 24 hours a day within which to fill each page and told us that we would need to return it on the last day of the year i.e. on the 365th day. Some people had a lot to write in their books while others left some pages blank. For some though, the book was completely blank except for the first page which contained a list of resolutions that were to be applied in the year 2014. Unfortunately, some of those resolutions were probably broken two minutes after they were written.
Anyway, whatever the case, each one of us was supposed to return the book to the Chief Librarian on the last day of 2014. Question is, when you returned it, what did your book contain? Was your story worth reading? Did it entertain the Chief Librarian? If it was to be put on the bookshelves of His library, would it attract the other library members to read it? Would it entertain/encourage them?
Of course you need to understand that I am not talking about a story you may have written; I am referring to how you used your 365 days of the year 2014. If you took time to take stock of how your 2014 was, would you say you were productive? Did you waste the days you were given or did you put them to good use? Is there anything to emulate from the way you lived your life in 2014? Given the chance, would you do anything different? Well, I don’t want to dwell on 2014 but I had to mention it somehow in order to say what I have to say next.
2014 is gone and will never come back again, just like there will never be another 1st January 2015 because the next 1st January will be after another year cycle. Once a day is gone its gone and can never be recovered. Like someone said, “time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back”. The best way of ensuring you don’t lose your time in the year 2015 is by ensuring you use it, instead of spending it. Let it work for you as opposed to you working for it. Like a coin, time has two faces each bearing different news; the good and the bad. The bad news says time flies. The good news says that you are the pilot. Question is, where are you flying your time to?
My word of encouragement to you is a quote from Buddha that says, “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”. To put this into perspective for this year, no matter how much time you have wasted in the past, 2015 just gave you an opportunity to do things right. This is the opportunity I mentioned above. You have another year to make things right. Plan your year and work out your plan one day at a time, one minute of every hour and keep doing this for as long as you are breathing.
Any time you seem to have a problem with managing your time and achieving results remember the words of H. Jackson Brown, Jr; “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein”.
Wishing you all a time conscious year ahead.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 5th January, 2015, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".