A Poem About the Passage of Time

The poem below is by Ricardo Gondim, a Brazilian theologian and progressive pastor. It is often misattributed to Mário de Andrade (1893-1945), poet, novelist, essayist, musicologist, and one of the founders of Brazilian modernism. Check out this 2020 post “My Soul Has a Hat” by Mário de Andrade Is Fake News for more information. (I’m an academic by training and therefore accuracy matters. No fake news!)

At any rate, it coincidentally appeared in my LinkedIn feed hours after I spoke to 1700 high school students at the High School of Education Sciences (HES – Trường THPT Khoa học Giáo) in Hanoi about finding their ikigai.

Among the quotes I shared with them, all related to the subject at hand, was this one by Randy Pausch (1960-2008), the Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who died of pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2008: The key question to keep asking is, ‘Are you spending your time on the right things?’ Because time is all you have. It is indeed our most precious commodity, a realization I came to earlier than most after my first up close and personal experience with loss at a young age.

In my remarks to the students, I even quantified life, asking how many were 16-years-old, i.e., about a third of my audience. I told them if they lived to 80, they had already lived 20% of their lives. What would they do with the remaining 80%? If their life were one day, it would be 4:48 a.m.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

O Tempo que Foge (The Time That Runs Away)

I counted my years and realized that I have less time to live by, than I have lived so far. I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first, he ate them with pleasure but when he realized that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings where the statutes, rules, procedures and internal regulations are discussed, knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience to stand absurd people who, despite their chronological age, have not grown up. My time is too short: I want the essence; my spirit is in a hurry. I do not have much candy in the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans, very realistic people who know how to laugh at their mistakes and who are not inflated by their own triumphs and who take responsibility for their actions. In this way, human dignity is defended and we live in truth and honesty. It is the essentials that make life useful.

I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life have learned to grow with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry. I’m in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give. I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts. I am sure they will be exquisite, much more than those eaten so far.

My goal is to reach the end satisfied and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience. We have two lives and the second begins when you realize you only have one.

NOTE: The last sentence is often attributed to Confucius with no proof that he ever said (wrote) that. It’s frequently seen on the Internet as a meme.

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