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Tomorrow … another word for infinity

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These days everything you ask anyone to do seems to be just too much trouble. Sure, they will tell you yes, and make you feel good in the moment, but then they will get on with whatever it is they find more entertaining or fulfilling.

CONFESSION time … I was probably the laziest student that the education system ever produced; if not the laziest, then at least I was in the top one or two!

One thing I could not stomach was homework! How could teachers, who already took up seven hours of your day, expect you to spend an extra two, sometimes three hours doing what you had been doing for a whole seven hours.

OK, another confession … I didn’t really spend all seven hours diligently doing schoolwork at school. Why would I? My friends were there! We needed to bond and make plans on how we would run the world better than the adults were at the time.

I think it’s for this reason that the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip resonated with me.

Look, it’s hard to describe Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a cartoon strip that flips between reality and the imagination of an opinionated seven-year-old. Calvin has a fluffy toy tiger, Hobbes, who ‘comes alive’ in Calvin’s imagination and the two of them get up to all sorts of mischief.

Apologies for the Calvin and Hobbes purists out there for that summary.

Now, in one cartoon Calvin decides that he would rather build a time machine than do his homework assignment. So on Friday afternoon he slaps it together and by the evening he jumps into his imaginary invention and zips to Sunday night to get the completed homework assignment from himself.

Sounds complicated right? Well, it gets worse.

When Friday evening Calvin meets his Sunday night Calvin there’s a problem. The assignment is not done because they are both lazy! Friday Calvin rants: “Do you mean to say it’s time for bed and you still haven’t written our story for school?”

To which Sunday Calvin replies: “I figured the story was already done!”

“How could it be done if you didn’t write it?!” Friday Calvin rages on. But Sunday reasons: “Obviously it had to be done before now. Because it’s 8.30pm and I’m supposed to be in bed!”

Then young Mr Friday thinks it through and comes to a realisation, “Wait a minute! If the story HAD been written in YOUR past, that would mean I should have written it!” This sets Sunday night Calvin off. “Well why didn’t you?” he asks accusingly.

Friday Calvin – as frustrated as you can only imagine – replies, “Because I came to the future to pick it up when it was done!” Upon hearing this, Sunday night Calvin is not impressed. “If you hadn’t screwed up my past, your future wouldn’t be like this,” he says with his arms folded, in frustration.

With this specific cartoon strip, cartoonist Bill Watterson hit the nail on the head in my opinion. Look, I did OK at school, I didn’t struggle to understand a lot of the subject matter being taught. But these days I wonder how much better I could have done academically had I applied myself more; had I been more diligent and been more industrious. But that story has not been written and never will be.

So these days I hover around families and cringe when I notice laziness and indolence in the youth.

“Do the dishes,” the mother says. And the child says, “Yes Mom,” but never actually finds the time to get around to actually doing the dishes. “Clean the car,” says Dad. To which the youngster says, “Yes, of course, I will do it ‘now-now’,” but these days, ‘now-now’ seems to mean ‘never’.

In fact these days everything you ask anyone to do seems to be just too much trouble. Sure, they will tell you ‘yes’, and make you feel good in the moment, but then they will get on with whatever it is they find more entertaining or fulfilling and forget about you.

A prime example is the water meter in front of our family home. I started reporting that it was leaking more than a month ago. Having to negotiate the switchboard at the municipality where you are told, “Your call is important to us”, to being told that the system at Waterworks is such that they have a priority list, but they will get to you in due time, is pretty frustrating.

So I called Waterworks directly a few weeks ago and was assured that the meter would be seen to ‘tomorrow’. A week passed and tomorrow never came. So I went to the Waterworks offices and asked the people in the office, “What about the water meter at our home? It’s been a week!”

I was told, “Sorry sir. I was not at work last week.” So the young person wrote my name on the schedule and told me that – you guessed it – they would be at our home ‘tomorrow’. Yesterday was a week since ‘tomorrow’.

It’s efficiency like this that makes me understand why the road to Barkly West is flooded today. That sewage lake didn’t appear overnight, but I get the feeling that all the complaints, concerns and alarm bells that people brought to the notice of those responsible for – think about it – protect us from environmental and economic disasters, were answered with a reassuring, “We’ll fix it tomorrow”.

Well, newsflash … tomorrow is here, and I don’t think I like the future.

All I am saying is that our youth can learn a valuable lesson from the catastrophic loss of a highway and the serious potential of a vast area’s groundwater being polluted with sewage. They can learn, while they are under their parents’ care, to do as they are told, and not do as they feel or see fit.

What too many of us fail to realise is that we are creating and shaping the world and society that we are going to have to live in as old people – that should terrify us.

So, for those who are young and strong and able to make a difference today, don’t be like Gloria Pitzer, who wrote: “Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will – tomorrow.”

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