We are already late for climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying…
By Luis Augusto Nobre
Some of my inspirations to write come from other people, or something that I have felt, seen or heard. A smile, a sunny day with a blue sky inviting me to be outside, a deep conversation…anything that I understand and want to put down in words. It wasn’t different for this piece here that I invite you to read and think about with me. The inspiration came from a foreign poem, but I found some connection to a famous song in Canada. Two different time periods, but some interconnection to help us realize the ephemerality of time.
Everything started when I watched a Brazilian TV show with celebrities answering intriguing and unusual questions about their lives. One of the answers resonated with me, and I couldn’t avoid writing about it. I heard the words, “Fetch yourself. It is later than you suppose,” and my mind blew up. The second sentence is from Hilda Hilst, a Brazilian poet, novelist and playwright (1930–2004). Suddenly I was immersed in deep rumination that, no matter what, I would always be late for some of my life commitments and goals.
It doesn’t matter how dedicated I am to my beliefs and social commitment, I won’t be on time to help people in this moment – like during the minutes that I am writing these words and you are reading them. Even doing my best, I won’t arrive on time to give “a hand” to those in need right now. However, I cannot give up, because my actions might still affect the future even if I start or continue the changes late, or if you and I work together to address those issues. Looking inside us, seeking the needs we have to improve for ourselves and others, consequently changing the world around us for future generations.
When doing this process to “fetch” ourselves, we also need to see the bright side as we might face our ugly sides, the sides we try to hide even from ourselves. These thoughts come from the second inspirational message I found while I was translating Hilda’s quote. Herb Magidson wrote a song with Carl Sigman called “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think”, which was a tremendous success recorded by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians in 1949.
Both sentences remind us that we don’t have enough time to accomplish and change everything we want, but we also need to connect with our inner side and have fun. Not easy, as we cannot be impulsive from now on (remember those “time flies” sentences). We still have responsibilities for ourselves and others – those are the consequences of growing up. Over the years, we have learned how to live with time passing so quickly in front of our eyes. Maybe we have become insensible to the effects and have forgotten that we are as late as the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, running desperately to be on time without noticing the constant changes along our way.
For the present, we will never be on time. For the future, we can use our wisdom and fix things so that it won’t be late for future generations. It is our current commitment to a better future, even when we are not here anymore. Do you need examples? We are already late for climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion.
Everything we do to mitigate our past and current actions comes too late for people who have been affected by the consequences of our lateness (and bad decisions). However, there are several opportunities to better address what is necessary for generations to come, to provide better opportunities, and to reduce the gap. We won’t fix everything, but those amendments will save lives when we are gone. They might even save them while we are still here.
I have written other essays for IN Magazine touching on the importance of keeping this legacy alive, maintaining the voices and leadership influences. We are in a constant relay race where we need to keep the momentum going for the next members of our community team – racing against time, and not against each other, as there is no winner in this race. A collective effort to be together, to cross the barriers as one.
This piece is one of my contributions to not leaving discussions without self-reflection, encouraging you to continue, as the clock doesn’t stop. I know that I cannot give up, and I won’t! Knowing that the future for me, for us and for those who haven’t been born yet depends on our current actions stimulates me to not be so late. To “keep swimming” (thanks, Dori), even with possible adversities, we have to give ourselves breaks to fetch and enjoy ourselves. Those “small” and necessary acts of self-reflection and kindness will recharge our batteries and heal us. I know that they recharge mine whenever I need it.
I feel that energy running in my veins when I cheer my communities in the Pride parades; when I see an inspirational speech; when I learn with my colleagues and peers; when I watch queer content beyond stereotypes; when I see more representation on TV shows, movies and business…when I am open to new information. I wish I could share exactly how I feel, so you would also feel it. I feel powerful enough to beat time, not be late anymore, and save what needs to be saved at the very last second. It is rewarding.
So I invite you to run with me against time. Maybe we will run together to produce enough energy to support our communities to survive and thrive. It could be late for us, but our sacrifice will save lives just as did the race run by Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, icons from the Stonewall riots. Their efforts and voices reduced the lateness for us to be alive today. The journey is long and our pace can reduce the time gap until the moment when the time will be chasing us instead.
LUIS AUGUSTO NOBRE is the communications coordinator of Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada, a leading national non-profit organization that promotes workplace inclusion on the grounds of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.