Never do [insert temporal adverb] what can be done [insert another temporal adverb]

You may be familiar with the 2014 film titled “Predestination,” that involves the most mind-blowing time-loop. While watching it, I didn’t fail to notice this:

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“Never do yesterday what should be done tomorrow.”

At first I laughed. Then I decided to give it some thought. My first and last interpretation of it was the same. In short, it’s about not messing with the past. If something happened at a particular point in time, then you have no reason to try and make it happen earlier.

However, there is a far simpler explanation for it. And that’s simply the fact that it’s just a tiny bit of humor from the creators and logically, in essence, it isn’t a lot different from what Aaron Burr spoke of:

There is a maxim, ‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.’ It is a maxim for sluggards. A better reading of it is, ‘Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow,’ because something may occur to make you regret your premature action. -Aaron Burr

But that’s not all. After discovering Burr’s thoughts on the subject, I did some more research and realized that there’s a whole world of different variations of the original “maxim for sluggards.”  Instead of redoing a similar post, I thought it’d be wiser to just link to a good one.

As you can see, the variations don’t just involve differences in spelling or grammar, but they involve differences in thought, and as you read each one of them you’d wonder why anyone would want to disagree with it; so who’s right? Once again, our very own Aaron Burr helps us with the answer: They all are right. The different maxims are for different people and for different situations.

As Burr said, the original maxim is for procrastinators, who might — occasionally — regret putting-off stuff. His own variation of it, along with Twain’s and Franklin’s, is in contrast, intended at the hasty class — and teaches them to prioritize –, who may need to put-off stuff every now and then for their own ease, and for minimizing chances of regret, and for maximizing prime time. As for procrastinators, well they’d never do anything early enough for it to be considered premature action.

And then we have Billings’ version: “Put not oph till to-morrow what can be enjoyed to-day.”
I believe this one is great for the misers. For those that are so obsessed with saving that they suck at spending and for those who are so obsessed with working for the future that they forget how to live the moment. If there’s something great that you could do, it might not be wise to put it off for later for something might happen that’d make you wish you’d done it earlier. If there’s something you are saving for later even though you need it now, it’d be wise to use it now for you may never need to use it again or you might lose it and never be able to use it again. A stupid personal example of this would be how I was saving up 100 DigitalOcean credits, that I got from GitHub for free, that just expired all of a sudden.

This one: “Always put off until tomorrow any evil you can do today.—Somerville Journal.” Is obviously self-explanatory. If there’s something that you might have to do but aren’t overjoyed about it then it might be wise to keep on putting it off for as long as possible for if you are lucky, as Walter Lionel George said, you may never have to do it at all!

And finally, we have this Logical law: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can avoid all together.” Again, this is fairly self-explanatory and is kinda the way to live a balanced life. It’s about doing what’s wise and necessary while living and enjoying as much of the moment as you can by not-doing that which is not necessarily needed. This one is for the over-workers.

At the end of the day, they all talk about doing that which is needed and doing it at the right time, and that is not really much different from my original interpretation inspired by time-travel.

 

Anas Ismail Khan

 

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