Running Late

“How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss

What's your relationship with time? Mine is not the most healthy one—I'm always late. I'm late in posting this. Oh, okay, I'll come clean: I'm even late in writing this.

In fact, my relationship with time has already been made into a Disney musical (spoiler alert: If you're wondering which character I am, it's NOT Alice):

As far back as I can remember, I've been late. I joke that I was born two weeks early and have been making up for it ever since. I'm a dawdler. A daydreamer. A little harried. In a rush. Running late. Running really late. It drove my mother nuts (and me too). I'm even behind the tempo when I dance. I remember my ballet teacher trying to get me to dance in time with the music, frustrated with my tardiness in my timing: "It's like you're almost on the beat, but you're just behind it, chasing it." She was closer to the truth than she realized, in fact. My Irish dance teacher said the same thing...

It's a pretty good metaphor:  I'm chasing Time, sprinting, out of breath, trying to grab it by the tail, either to slow it down or to just hang on and be pulled along. It's a lot of work. I haven't even gotten to the part yet where I feel so incredibly guilty ALL THE TIME about my inability to be on time. Why can't I be prepared? Or, dare I say it aloud, early, even? (wishing on a star here, it feels like)

"Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up." This refrain echoes endlessly in my ears (well, except for the part when he sings that he leaves in plenty of time, obviously).

I can't stand being late. I worry about it all the time. Ironically, this doesn't actually make me timely. If being on time was the by-product of beating myself up for being late, I'd be the most punctual person on earth. In fact, I spend so much time worrying and stressing myself out about being late that I often end up even later. And in a foul mood, thanks to a healthy dose of self-loathing. Not really a win-win situation.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to time, it feels to me like there's just never enough. Because I don't have the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of the world? Or is it because of my story about time? Do you hold it that you just need three more hours? One more? Let me tell you something: If I had more time, I'd still be late. I'd just cram more into it. In all honesty, I'd probably be later, because I'd plan to accomplish way more with my newfound time.

I'm a victim to time. At effect to time, as opposed to at cause with it. Like a twig in the Nile, I let myself get pulled along by the ticking of the clock, instead of actively choosing what I will do with the time I'm given. Like flailing about hysterically in water, terrified of drowning, when you just need to stand up in order to save yourself. This water's not that deep, after all.

What does a victim to time do? They don't plan things: They optimistically agree to doing more than is reasonable, because they're not looking at a clock or a schedule, afraid of what it might show them. They are chronically late. They don't mean to be late/rude/inconsiderate: Quite the opposite—they just can't say no. It's a bit like refusing to use a budget and hoping your finances work out, fingers crossed. Or playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Wearing a blindfold and hoping to hit a target is not especially conducive to success and accuracy.

I'm learning to say, "I'm sorry, but I can't make it." It turns out that you don't lose friends or create unsalvageable rifts by being reasonable about what you can and cannot do (or will and will not). It turns out other people are pretty reasonable, generally speaking. I'm using my daytimer, which is cute and has Le Petit Prince on the cover (hey, whatever works, right?). I set reminders and—wait for it—I check my calendar. Frequently.

Are you responsible for your time? Or are you a victim to it? Are you always early, or perpetually behind? Can you see your relationship with time?