Everything has its fixed time


By Nellie van der Walt

With Apology to the Ecclesiastes

There is apparently a right time for everything; every thing in this world happens at the right time. I don’t know about that now, but I know it makes people less anxious if they believe it.

There is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pull out plants. Especially if you forgot to water the things in the Western Cape summer.

There is never a time to kill. Except maybe if a spider wants to bathe with you. Then it’s time to burn down your house too.

There is a time to go to the pharmacy for pills so that you can make yourself well.

I don’t think one should make too much time to break down. You can probably break down a wall that is falling down. I also think it’s good to make time to break bread with others. But don’t spend time tearing others down (the blind sambok and such, you know).

Make time to cry. Emotions that get pent up just get rotten. And no one wants to sit with a rotten inside. Tears were very painfully gone. There is a time to mourn. It’s very important. This will help you to appreciate anew what you do have and live each day more fully. Make more time to laugh. Not only can you pack that six pack (six-pack) get what you and your beer lover have been dreaming of for years, it relieves anxiety and lets you instantly relax. But I’m talking about that real laugh out loud (ROFL), not just a giggle (LOL).

There is plenty of time to dance. Go sock. Hoe. Grab your sweetie in front of the food pots when your favorite Afrikaans hit is playing. It doesn’t matter how you dance, just do it. We don’t care if you do that dance that looks like epileptic seizures at a rave, or the foot-foot shuffle. If someone laughs at your dance style, just laugh along, then you have built in your time for laughter for the day.

Apparently there is a time to throw away stones. But I don’t know why anyone would do that. Do the people know what the stuff costs? I don’t think Prediker should have paid for his garden stones at that time. I like more the one where there is a time to collect stones. Even if they are little ones. If you don’t use it in your garden, you can always use it to throw the crooks with it when they want to come and drink tea uninvited.

You guys, I can’t stress the next moment more: there is a time to hug and hug someone and a time not to hug someone.

Nowadays people are terribly sensitive about their personal space and gender. It’s not like when I was young where you had to kiss every person at the family party, including the uncle with his beer-soaked mustache and wet lips. And then, out of decency, you try to get away from him first before you wipe your lips, so he doesn’t get offended. If you are unsure, ask instead. Permission is important (although some believe it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, but we’re not talking to them now).

Bad times to hug are for example when your principal just gave you six of the best and you turn around and hug him. Or when the thug hands you a ticket for drunk driving. Or when you don’t know the person on the street at all. Hold on.

There is a time to search. In the morning after your socks, car keys, phone, the child’s school sweater, the butter you just put on the counter. There is also a time to look for more serious things. Like when a child like Joshlin goes missing. Or when you have to seek forgiveness within yourself for someone who raped you. Or when you have to look for a new job because your boss is a shithole.

There are also times to miss something. Sometimes you have to let something go. Like the sweets in the candy drawer when your child comes home from a party, high on sugar, and asks for more sweets. Or when you have to get rid of your ex’s body…

There is a time to take care of something. Like your children. Until they become teenagers. Because then it’s night. Or your car. Or your dignity. Or the special chocolate. But there is also a time to throw away. You’re not going to fit into that figure eight denim again Susan, just sell it on Yaga or throw it away. That 1999 Panado still lying in your medicine cabinet waiting for its moment in the sun is probably going to give you a heart attack or stroke. Throw away. Lighten up. Move on.

There is a time to tear. It’s not a good time for most. Especially not when it comes to pants. There is a lot of time to sew. Because heaven knows, clothes are no longer made like in the old days and inflation is lightning fast.

The most important judgment you can make as a human being is when it is time to remain silent, and when it is time to speak. When the teacher asks if you “really want to push her further?” or when the pastor at a wedding asks if anyone has objections to the covenant. Or when the pastor is busy with his sermon during a funeral…

There is a time to talk. African aunties have doctorates in this. But don’t speak empty words. Think before you say something silly like, “Hey, are you pregnant again?”

It is very important to speak loudly and non-stop about injustices. Like the horrible acts committed against the children of Gaza. Or when Uncle Sakkie makes another racist joke at the Saturday night barbecue. Or about violence against women. Then you have to let it blow.

There is a time to love. Correction, there is ALWAYS time to love. It doesn’t matter where you are, in whatever context: live love. This doesn’t mean you have to kiss Frikkie at your work by the coffee machine. No, but you can compliment Frikkie on his last project with a warm smile. The other little things that love a lot are children. That’s all they need to bloom. If you don’t have children, go help with someone else’s at an orphanage. It will bring you the greatest joy. And love is like a boomerang, it always comes back.

However, there is also a time to hate. Like when you don’t like castor oil, but it’s the only thing your mom believes will kill the germs. Or when Mathematics is a compulsory subject in matric and you didn’t study very hard. Or when the teacher gives you a massive task on a Friday that has to be in on Monday, because Jannie hasn’t sat still yet again. Or when someone sends you a WhatsApp voice note and it starts with: “Hello! Sorry, I’ll just send a quick one voice notes…”

There is a time to be on social media doom scroll and a time to wash the dishes. In the old days you would read the newspaper to the last page and close it, put it down and go about your day. Social media does not have a final page. So just set an old alarm clock on your phone to serve as your last page. You have better things to do with your time. Like grilling.

The Preacher asked: “What does it profit a man that he has worked hard? Nothing.” I don’t think the Preacher has ever received a bonus before a December holiday. I also don’t think he knows about all the nice wine you can buy if you work hard and earn money. Hard work also keeps you out of trouble, because then you don’t have to steal to buy bread.

The Preacher was a wise man. That’s probably why his name was Preacher. He said many other smart things too. But I think people sometimes take the Bible and what it says too literally. Read it and make it your own. Because the Preacher is no longer alive today. And read a few other books too, just to give you perspective. Especially if you have a little extra time.

  • Nellie van der Walt is a freelance marketer with big writing dreams and lives on a farm outside Stellenbosch. Feel free to follow her writing page here: https://www.facebook.com/brieweuitsuburbia.