If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And, if not now…when?
Hillel the Elder
For some reason in the past few days, the last line of this quote has been...well, haunting me. It's been like a song or melody that gets stuck in your head and drives you nuts.
…if not now…when?
I knew I had the quote written down somewhere. I couldn't even remember who it was attributed to. Then, this morning I went right to it. It’s in an old spiral notebook of mine; a notebook from 1971. It is full of odd quotes, snatches of conversations I had with people, poems, snippets of memories, jokes. It’s not a diary, but when I read through it I am carried back to those times and remember the people, the places, the experiences that caused me to write down the words.
But why was I/am I being haunted by the words “…if not now…when?”
For the last several months I’ve been struggling with my latest novel. Past novels have come fairly easily. I’ve seen them in my head, like a movie, and I’ve written them down. One scene has followed another until…all of a sudden it’s finished.
But this one…this one is not cooperating. I can’t get a time-line together as it moves from past to present. Every approach I’ve taken to write the story has come up against a wall at the very same point. Because it isn’t coming “easily” for me, I haven’t wanted to deal with it. So, I’ve been procrastinating, putting off trying to figure it all out. My binder with all my notes has taunted me for weeks. I tried putting the binder away so I wouldn’t see it. But I so love the idea, the setting, the characters…it won’t let me go. The binder came back out of hiding.
Yesterday I thought, if not now, when? I sat down and struggled with it. A little tiny crack formed, a thin sliver of light was cast into the murky gloom.
“…if not now…when?”
There is no when, there is only now.
It's a new day. It's now.