I have been planning on writing this ‘Mañana’ article for several months, but I never got around to it. There is an old saying “Why do today what you can put off ‘till tomorrow?” Some have coined the expression “mañana disease”, which means to procrastinate and put things off until tomorrow. The term ‘procrastinate’ is literally Latin “for tomorrow (crastinus)”.
Once a year in January, many of us take time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us vow to finish certain important tasks that we have been putting off. For some of us, it may be finding a new job, getting married, having a child, buying a house, earning a University degree, or restoring a broken relationship.
King Solomon 3,000 years ago had this advice for people struggling with the mañana disease: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” (Proverbs 6:6)
Solomon challenges each of us to not let fear hold us back: “The sluggard says ‘there is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming in the streets.’ (Proverbs 26:13)
Solomon encourages us to not be arrogant and unteachable: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.” (Proverbs 26:16). Solomon cautions us not to become addicted to our pillows: “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.” (Proverbs 26:14). The ancient word for procrastination is sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Solomon humorously points out that sloth can become so addictive that nothing gets done: “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.” (Proverbs 26:15).
Why do we procrastinate? I procrastinated for years in writing my second book “Battle for the Soul of Canada.”* Sometimes conquering procrastination seems like too much stress, too much work. I believe that the rise of the ‘living together’ phenomenon in our culture has a lot to do with marital procrastination, especially for men. The average age for men to be married is now 34; for women, it is 31. Many people are waiting for the perfect time to tie the knot, the perfect financial situation, perfect educational situation, perfect housing situation, perfect emotional connectedness. Perfectionism is at the core of the mañana disease. Our grandparents rarely experienced perfect lives. Somehow they were able to get married and get on with their lives.
For many men, the concept of having children is even more threatening than being married. The imagined weight of responsibility can be overwhelming. It is interesting that in the most affluent parts of the world, we are having fewer children and at a much later stage of life. The biological clock is on a collision course with the mañana disease. The irony of Quebec is that its fear of cultural extinction is now becoming a biological reality. Quebec, which had the highest birthrate, now has the lowest birthrate in North America. Mañana has real consequences.
I love the poster I saw recently of a huge polar bear lying prone on an iceberg. The caption goes: “When I get the feeling to do something, I lie down until the feeling goes away.” Charles Dickens in his famous novel David Copperfield wisely observed: “Procrastination is the thief of time.” I have found that later often means never. Life moves on. People die. People move away. Nothing on this earth is permanent.
We all mean very well in our hearts. Sometimes we fail to show it to our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings. It is so easy to put off saying “I’m sorry. I was wrong. How can I make it up to you? I’ll try not to do that again. Will you please forgive me”. It is so easy to let relationships die because of the mañana disease.
When I came to St. Simon’s North Vancouver, I said to our congregation: “If I haven’t offended you yet, you don’t know me well enough.” They all laughed at the time, but later found out that I was dead serious. All of us have the ability to offend others. We even have the ability to offend ourselves. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Women especially are often the hardest on themselves, turning their anger inward. Perhaps conquering the mañana disease may involve looking yourself in the mirror, and with God’s help, forgiving yourself. Many people, who have been through a painful divorce or an abortion, secretly condemn themselves for years. God knows and God forgives, if we will only open our hearts to Him. Say no to the mañana disease.
In this New Year, my challenge for those reading this article to seize the day, redeem the time, forgive those who need forgiving, and get on with our life both now and for eternity. Are you ready yet to meet your Maker?
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
How many of us have realized that the Canadian North was first ‘discovered’ 434 years ago by an English pirate? A pirate, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Sir Martin Frobisher was arrested at least four times for high-sea piracy, but was let go with a scolding by Queen Elizabeth I. Confiscating Spanish ships was one thing, but a good English ‘sea-dog’ was always supposed to keep his hands off English goods. Frobisher ended up spending time in jail for confiscating English wine vats that had been on a French ship. Upon release from prison, Frobisher decided to sail over the top of Canada through the mythical Northwest Passage to China. His goal was to become rich by finding an alternative route for Asian pepper. Because there was no refrigeration in those days, pepper was in high demand, being used by Europeans to make their meat palatable.
One of Frobisher’s specialties as Captain was to punish sabre-duelling crewmates by chopping off their right hands. Frobisher was also a brave leader who thought nothing of diving into iceberg-strewn waters to rescue drowning sailors. Once while on their way to Baffin Island, his ship Gabriel fell over on its side and began filling up with water. Without a moment’s hesitation, Frobisher grabbed an axe and hacked off the foresail, enabling the ship to right itself. Though a rough-and-tumbles privateer, he never went anywhere on his daring voyages without his bible. Upon returning to England with three Inuit hostages and a mysterious black rock, Frobisher kicked off Canada’s first Gold Rush. The Russian Tsar officially protested this kidnapping of Asian Siberians! Frobisher claimed that his Inuit hostages were being held to seek the release of five of his crewmembers that had disappeared. Before dying from English fog and food, the 3 Inuits thrilled the Queen by shooting royal birds and kayaking down the Avon River.
All the credible scientists told Frobisher’s financial backer, Michael Lok, that the black rock was worthless ‘fools gold’. But Michael Lok, being an early stock promoter of the less reputable kind, ignored their advice and instead consulted an Italian alchemist, Giovanni Agnello, who used ‘black magic’ to discern that Martin Frobisher’s rock was indeed gold.
The English business community, backed by Queen Elizabeth I, became so excited about the first Canadian Gold Rush, that they sent 15 Ships to Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island. The Queen even lent her own 200-ton ship AID. Gold Rush fever brought together the largest Armada of English ships ever assembled until World War II. Frobisher’s public image was rapidly transformed by his stockpromoter, Michael Lok, from that of an uncouth pirate to that of the ‘rare and valiant’ Captain General embarking on a heroic mission. Everyone, including Martin Frobisher himself, believed that he had discovered the Northwest Passage to China, and that Baffin Island contained King Solomon’s hidden mines. In this first English attempt to colonize the New World, Frobisher brought 120 would-be settlers, miners, carpenters, and an Anglican priest named Rev. Robert Wolfall.
On their way to Baffin Island, they faced desperate circumstances due to mountainous icebergs that could crush their ships like matchboxes. The hardened sailors knelt down on the decks and prayed for God’s mercy. Two of the sailors’ prayers recorded for posterity by Captain Best were ‘Lord help us now or never’ and ‘Now Lord look down from heaven and save us sinners, or else our safety will come too late’. With no radar or telecommunications to guide them in the fog, they saved the sailors on the sunken ‘Dennis’ by using trumpets, drums, canons and the two passwords: ‘Before the world was God’, to be answered by ‘After God came Christ His Son’. Captain Best recorded that Rev. Wolfall encouraged Frobisher’s men ‘to be thankful for their strange and miraculous deliverance’ at sea. To celebrate their safe arrival on Baffin Island, Rev. Wolfall celebrated the first Anglican Communion service ever held in Canada, just 420 years ago.
After three Frobisher Bay expeditions costing over 20,000 pounds, including 3,500 pounds of the Queen’s money, Martin Frobisher brought back 2,300 tons of alleged gold to England. This ‘gold rush’ treasure was promptly secured with 4 padlocks in the Tower of London and Bristol Castle. Once the geologists found out that the Baffin Island gold was fool’s gold, Frobisher and many of his investors went into bankruptcy. His financial backer, Michael Lok, was sent to jail. To cover the embarrassment of Canada’s first Bre-X-style disaster, the 2,300 tons of fools gold was dumped into the Bristol Harbour and also used to pave roads. Yet Frobisher never stayed defeated for long. Within a few years, he joined the British navy and ended up being knighted by Queen Elizabeth for defeating the Spanish Armada.
Sir Martin Frobisher’s story teaches us that all of us are on a journey, that sometimes our hopes and dreams turn out to be fools gold, but that God can even use our mistakes and turn them to a higher good. My prayer for those reading this article is that God may turn everything that is against us to our advantage.(Romans 8:28)
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail email@example.com . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99CDN/USD.