Time Does Not Rehabilitate

Brian Nadon cycling
Looking for time to provide answers

By Brian Nadon

When we get dumped or we fail or we lose someone, we often hear that “Time heals all wounds” or some such remark, all of it in consolation. Obviously this is meant well, but it’s also frustrating – if only because it’s corny… and way too simple. Over the years I’ve learned and repeated, “Time does not rehabilitate as people say superficially; at best it creates order.

There is a Zen story about a man whose horse ran away. People said it was bad luck. Then the horse came back, which people thought was good luck, and then his son broke his leg while falling off it and people thought that was bad luck come round again. But because his leg was broken, the man’s son was saved from fighting and dying in a war, and the cycle went on and on.

Time doesn’t make things better or worse, it simply makes them what they are. That’s why it’s important to not rush to judgment about anything, about waiting and seeing. Because we don’t know. Just giving something time isn’t automatically going to make it better – but it does at least give things a chance to shake out, for us to see the full picture. If there is one rule of thumb about time that we CAN rely on, that most of us would agree with, it’s that ‘time will tell.’

That’s the moral of the Zen story too. Trying to label things as good luck or bad luck is shortsighted. It assumes that all the facts have been entered into evidence. It’s better to hold off on forming an opinion, because fate is constantly unfolding around us, and today’s bad luck may very well be setting up tomorrow’s good luck (and vice versa).

Time isn’t a cure-all, but it is a form of truth. So watch for it. Time will, in fact, tell.