Category Archives: On Deadlines as Lifelines

Time, Limits, Rage, and God.

Accepted fact and foible: we’re all going to be late for dates, massively miss a set time or occasion of delivery, or just saunter past deadlines on the regular. Primal, spotless punctuality is such an unattainable goal for most (all?) of us. We try our best and go full steam ahead.

Why, then, have I recently developed such a steaming sense of anger when it comes to tardiness of all sorts?

There was a time in my life where I considered myself “laid back.” I laugh at this now, as it was, most likely, a consideration in the same way big guys like me are sometimes called “Tiny.” The winking and dingy roar of irony just cuts right through that now, in hindsight.

My illness and amputations and extended recovery are the closest thing I’ve got to a collective and bona fide crucible. And I think that’s the crux of it. I get steamed when my time is wasted without reason; I let myself get all sorts of huffy when a friend is late for a home or hospital visit, or a cog in the deadline machine (read: copy or other time-sensitive material) comes in late and strips some gears.

I have to believe God had me survive this crap for a reason, and I’m doing my best to pack my healthy and cognizant moments with meaning and efficiency. The anger that occurs when that gets blown out of the water is so pointless, though; I’ve tried to pray staunchly and purposefully on the issue, and I’m certain that there are no specific scriptural references to tardiness. But deadlines and punctuality give the ugly chaos of what’s happened to me some structure: it’s easier to climb a ladder of reason and importance if there’s a rhythm to it.

I do firmly go back to the Steve Jobs chestnut, which has hung on my wall for five years:

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Three years ago, a dear friend, one who I consider family, was habitually late for our times together. I lost it on him in a way that wasn’t exactly fair. He justifiably snarled back: “You have such a chip on your shoulder about other people stealing time from you.” We used to fight about stupid things. He was right. He still is.

I look forward to letting go of this and, while not exactly letting this lateness stuff slide, taking it so much less personally. Lord knows I can fill those “stolen” moments with meaning and fun and creativity. Let’s see how this goes.