In the year 1973, Zhao Enlai, the Chinese premier was interacting with students when he was asked about the effects of the revolution. His reply left many swooning in admiration about Chinese thinking on time and change, given that it was 200 plus years after the French Revolution that he was being asked the question. Zhao Enlai’s response: “It’s too soon to say”.
Think about it. It is such a prescient statement! We live in a world that is over indexed on speed and gives in to the attractiveness of the immediate moment without much of thought over long term good. Occasional moments where there is some semblance of reflection and thought exists. However few and far between. One such, which is regular, is at the end of every year.
So, it’s that time of the year where I sit down to think about thoughts and ideas that I kept to think and expand on at a later time. “It’s too soon to say”, is a thought that sits on top of the list.
The Times We Live In
Now, there is no question about how much the immediate is preferred over the long term in our current times.
This quarter’s results are more important that what happens to the long term health of the company.
Steroids to bulk up muscles (and the accountant versions of it of decorating the account book to make a good valuation)
Ambitious parents shoving their children’s future into darkness by exposing them to the arc lights early on.
Climate change. Politics. Education. Etc. The examples make a long enough list to cite this as the norm. Time’s endless march towards relentless change stays well above our ability to make complete and coherent sense of it.
Reflecting on our experiences help us see what we miss in the steady bustle of daily life. What we conclude as benefits and pluses, sometimes turns out to be quite ruinous in the long run! And vice versa.
It’s Too Soon To Say
Personally, a silver lining of the pandemic has been discovering some of my diaries, scrapbooks and letters from another era. I have read them a few times now. With a fair share of relish and embarrassment.
I am struck by how certain I have been about me lessons learnt from various incidents. The certainty finds its match in how ridiculously shortsighted and wrong my conclusions were, back then. And how the future unfolded in a very different way!
So much so, that as I collect my thoughts and write my reflections for the year, I have been wary of definitively conclude one way or the other. The mantra that’s been on my mind is “It’s too soon to say”!
The passage of time alters context and much of what seems obvious and plain sight, shifts. I have found myself asking the question, ‘what was I even thinking?’! I draw solace from the fact that had taken the effort to write things down.
Reflecting on my reflections has helped me think and draw meaning. I dig deeper for better questions and wait for the answers to emerge. It’s that season, you know!
A Handy Tool
The team at Flyntrok came up with a fun tool to sit down and do this. In simple ways, without definitive conclusions, where the focus is on recording without impeding reflections.
I would be delighted to share a digital version with you, if you are interested. Please drop in a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. Just a crisp mail will do. A little more of words to wish me luck and new year cheer will bring on a smile!
If you are a pen and paper person, there is a printed version of this tool. Please send in your address and phone number to the same mail ID, and I will have it reach you. As always, I treat personal data with great care. And please pay by passing around some kindness and love!
By the way…
Many years after Zhao Enlai’s comment of “It’s too soon to say”, it turned out that he was speaking of another uprising that happened in 1968. And not the original French Revolution. But then, such facts should not interfere with the profoundness of the message! 🙂
The OWL Despatch
The OWL Despatch is at edition 96. It’s too soon to say if it has made a resounding difference to many. Even though, I would like to think so.
Typically, I put one edition out every fortnight, anchoring it on one key idea and spice it up with five reads (links) that I found interesting. Here are the five for this week, starting with a puzzle
- “A contestant is faced with three doors. Behind one of them is a sleek new car. Behind the other two are goats. The contestant picks a door, say Door 1. To build suspense, Monty opens one of the other two doors, say Door 3, revealing a goat. To build the suspense still further, he gives the contestant an opportunity either to stick with their original choice or to switch to the unopened door. You are the contestant. What should you do?” – Did you do what everybody does?
- “Would Plato tweet? The Ancient Greek guide to social media“ I found this fascinating as it helped build the bridge between the past and the now. And how much things stay the same when they apparently shift!
- The world’s first SMS is up for sale. Merry Christmas everyone!
- The Kyoto Cherry Blossom Record is incredible. Every year, the date on which the Cherry blossom peaked has been recorded and maintained. Since 812 AD! Well, do we say its too early to tell? 🙂
- Three Theories for Why You Have No Time. Pretty good, I should say.
Keep the mask on as you welcome the New Year! And that’s that for this edition and for this year too. Take good care. Here’s wishing you the very best for an awesome season of reflection and quiet time. There is a New Year coming. Perhaps it won’t be that tough. Or maybe it will. Yes, it’s too soon to say.
Happy New Year!