In the nick of time

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Soulveda | Aug 26, 2021

A medical college professor, putting a student through an oral examination, asked him, “How many of these pills would you give to a man who had suffered a heart attack?” “Four,” replied the student. A minute later, he piped up, “Professor, can I change my answer?” “You can, by all means,” said the professor, looking at his watch. “But, regrettably, your patient has already been dead for 40 seconds.”

Certain matters in life are so critical that they require the appropriate step to be taken without a moment’s hesitation. But an instant decision must also be a correct one, otherwise the consequences could be drastic, and could mean a lifetime of repentance.

Our moments of decision-making are often very similar to our attempts to board a train. Catching a train requires preparation. We have to pack our luggage, making sure we take the right things with us, buy a ticket, arrange transport to take us to the station and we must, of course already be on the platform at the appointed time; otherwise we are surely going to be left behind. For the train is no respecter of persons. It arrives on time and departs on time, and pays no heed whatsoever to tardy passengers.

If we are like the medical student who was caught on the wrong foot because of lack of preparation and who was much too late with the correct answer, the train of life will go on its scheduled course and we shall be left standing, wondering what to do next and how to avert the disastrous consequences of our failure to get on board. It is, therefore, necessary to be prepared for all eventualities in life. Preparedness means assiduously acquiring a good education and losing no time in gaining useful experience relevant to our chosen occupations. It above all requires a mental and physical readiness to seize opportunities when they come our way, and to be firm of purpose, never permitting our energy to be frittered away in pointless vacillation.