“…yet he would not do amiss to wait and be ruled by time, the wisest counselor of all.”
Pericles, in Plutarch’s Lives
Yesterday morning in class a student looked out the window at the trees beginning to bud and said, “The trees look so sad; I just wish they’d hurry up and grow leaves.” A very understandable sentiment indeed, especially after a long winter.
Often we not only let ourselves feel the desire to rush things, we also act upon it. But one of the many things we can learn from the natural world is that good things have their proper season. And we must wait for them, and prepare for them. To take something too early is to disrupt, and sometimes to destroy.
In spring, for instance, many young people seem to experience an insistent if subtle inclination toward pairing up. For some this may be the right season; but for some it is not. In this area, as in so many areas of life, we grow impatient. We demand leaves, and skip the budding.
As regards many good things—perhaps most?—wisdom would counsel that we be ruled by time, that we be willing to wait. We seek fruit before its time, without the requisite cultivation. We demand immediate gratification, in everything from love to work to leisure.
Hindsight is said to be 20/20. To those willing to wait and prepare–for any number of things–hindsight can be added to foresight, the two seamlessly blending. And so time can become the wisest counselor of all…before it’s too late.
Plutarch (46-120 A.D.), a Boeotian Greek who became a Roman citizen, was especially known as a biographer of famous Greek and Roman men.
Pericles (495-429 B.C.), a great general, statesman, and orator, ruled Athens during its Golden Age. Several of his speeches are recorded by Thucydides (460-395 B.C.) in his History of the Peloponnesian War.