Minute #606: Present Tense

“What can you do about it now?” Sruly asked. “It didn’t work out the way you expected, but it’s over, so forget it and move on.”

“I don’t know if I was right to go to such an event in the first place,” Binyamin said. “I’m very disappointed with the results.”

“I understand your frustration, but I think it’s only because of your expectations. It’s okay to analyze to avoid future failures, but it’s silly to get angry or frustrated because that will yield nothing positive,” Binyamin said.

“Maybe you’re right,” Sruly acquiesced. “It’s probably best to drop the subject. Let’s go get some coffee and I’ll start living the rest of my life.”

Some people go through life without ever looking back. In Parashat Haazeenu, Moshe Rabbeinu chides our people to learn from history. One who fails to study history is destined to repeat its mistakes. Others review and dwell on the past ad infinitum and thereby may become frustrated or even angry. The more they discuss a failure or frustration, the more prone they are to anger and irritation. Moderation is the rule. To ignore is to repeat failure. To over-analyze is to live in a frustrating past and reduce the chances of future successes exponentially.

A good question to ask is: “Was I right to do that?” or “Was it correct to go there?” If you answer in the positive then you have done your duty.

You will eventually forget the frustrating failures. The question is, how long will it take? Don’t allow it to fester for years. Know that even a few minutes later it is already in the past. Dwell on the best course for the present — that’s the ideal course for future success.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Tefillah is one mitzvah of the many the Torah has given us to bring us close to our Creator. The Sefer HaIkrim, however, urges us not to make the mistake of viewing it in the same light as other mitzvos. In its unique capacity to arouse Hashem’s mercy, save us from affliction and bring us forgiveness and blessing, prayer is a mitzvah like no other. (Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Praying with Fire, p. 24)