What’s Done is Done

Original Text: “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.”

Transliteration: “Not for much waking early dawns more early.”

Translation: “No matter how early you wake up, the sun still rises at the same time.”


According to the source, this proverb is similar to the proverbs “What’s done is done,” and “You can’t change the past.” To put this proverb in simpler terms, it means that it doesn’t matter what you do. The sun will always rise at dawn, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. The source says he uses it when people are worried about things they’ve done that can no longer be corrected. He couldn’t remember specifically when or where he’d first heard it, but he remembered his mother using it when he was young. He’d go to her crying about something that he’d done poorly in school, and she’d tell him not to cry because it’s in the past, and there’s nothing he could do about it anyway.

This collection particularly interests me because of the source’s interpretation. The proverb is stated in terms of something that will happen in the future (i.e. the sunrise), but when he explained how he understood it, he explained it in terms of the past (i.e. “You can’t change the past.”). When I first heard the proverb, I understood it to be making a statement on destiny. I understood it as being, “No matter what you do, you can’t change the rules of the world. The sun is still gonna rise at x time. So and so is still going to die. Etc, etc.” The source, however, makes it sound like a statement on regret. We shouldn’t worry ourselves about things that have already happened because the past can’t be corrected.

In either case, the proverb is understood as making a statement on how people can’t change things. But why did he and I understand it differently? Personally, I hate the idea of destiny very much, which might be why I jumped to that conclusion, ready to tear apart this proverb. When I asked him why he saw it as a statement about regret, he said he thinks it’s because that’s how his mother always used it, so he kind of inherited her view and never quite thought of it any other way. He understood my view, though, and wondered if maybe he’d start to see the proverb that way, too.