Years ago, I used to pride myself on working ahead of time. I used to see some kind of deadline off in the distance and plan out how I would try to get it done a little early–a paper, maybe, or grading some essays, or a reading assignment for a class.
Okay, it was a short phase.
Maybe a year at most.
But I loved it. I loved the feeling of walking to my teaching post, or driving in to a night class, feeling somewhat rested and thinking, yup, that was done a little early. Finished. Finalitisimo. Nada more to do!
And this small bit of excitement gave me a real hunger for more of it (as well as for flour-based bakery items such as: blueberry muffins, banana bread, banana muffins, and blueberry bread).
Even though the phase was short lived, that feeling was pretty amazing.
Fast forward many years, and the reality is very much the opposite. (However, the flour-based bakery items still come along for the ride.) Now, I find myself rushing to complete any task: grading the essays, working on that revision, starting the first draft, getting to the copy edits, putting the kids to bed, putting myself to bed, putting an idea to bed, laying off the flour-based bakery items, and doing the paper for the night class.
All of it happens, pretty much, in the last minute.
Or the last second of the last minute.
For a while, I mourned the loss of the getting-things-done-early kind of life (eating copious amounts of flour-based bakery items was crucially helpful in this stage.)
Then, for another while, I worked vigilantly to get that done-early mentality back (in which case flour-based bakery items were fuel for the drive, pricing energy and courage and chutzpah!).
Finally, I came to a deep acceptance, sat for long periods of time realizing that such a life was not to be had (at least for long time) and proceeded to eat copious amounts of flour-based bakery items to console my heart and stomach regarding this fact.
(Didn’t someone incredibly wise–like Mozart or Oprah or Einstein–remind us of this fact with the immortal words: IF YOU CONVINCE YOUR HEART AND STOMACH OF SOMETHING, THE MIND IS SURE TO FOLLOW THEREAFTER; IF IT DOES NOT, YOU ARE EATING THE WRONG KINDS OF FLOUR-BASED BAKEY ITEMS. BUT THAT IS OKAY BECAUSE ALL OF LIFE IS ABOUT SECOND CHANCES. RETURN TO THOSE FLOUR-BASED BAKERY ITEMS IN THEIR SPLENDOROUS GLASS-SHIELDED DISPLAY CASES AND CHOOSE YE AGAIN!)
So, I am happy (resigned?) to now report that I am coming to a place of peace (giving up?) on getting things done ahead of time and then proceeding with calm confidence towards the due date.
I am coming to an acceptance that, in certain stages of life (maybe thirty or forty years?), getting things done in the nick of time is okay. It is fine. It is fun! The adventure of rushing! The joy of jovial justice that such things still actually DO get done is cool enough! Right on! Right…on? Right?
Or maybe something bigger is at play. Maybe the reality is that all of the goals we make, and all of the hopes and dreams that we seek to accomplish as writers, cannot be completed in a single burst. So we work diligently, we consume our flour-based bakery items, and we pray that we’ll make it on time.
And when we do–instead of feeling guilty for the nick in which we finished, maybe we should eat another banana blueberry muffin bread item and whisper a pray of thanks that we even had the chance to pursue it in the first place. Or, to use much better, more refined words that do not mention anything at all about flour-based bakery items, hear it from Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Yes, that sounds much better and saves an awful lot of space.
7 responses to “In the Nick of Time”
I hear you on the different cycles of life and how we’re able to manage time. Kudos to you on your mindful approach AND still managing to get things done! That’s the way to staying sane (and of course, flour-based bakery items help tremendously!)
Loved your post! I have always been one of those get-it-done-early people, to the amazement of those around me typing their papers until midnight the night before the were due. Mine was done a week before and I always had time to mull it over–and even retype it (days of manual typewriters!). But living on the edge is exciting, too. I actually get a lot more done, so I guess its a trade off. I’m gluten-free now, but I can down a bag of grapes in an instant!
Hold on to that memory. There will be days when you accomplish ahead of time, even if they are infrequent. But as you say in the conclusion, just give thanks for getting tasks done, in advance or just in the nick of time.
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I can absolutely relate. I remember when my to-do list went from getting done that day, to that week, to it becoming more of a general suggestion. Life is now full. Happily so. Enjoy all the things that “get in the way” of a timely finish to the to-do list. I imagine those things are precious and wonderful! Great post and great reminder to always be thankful of being exactly where we are supposed to be.
Thank YOU, Luke :). Acceptance is something I’ve been working on a lot lately, in so many aspects of my life.
Hey! I like this post. A lot. Also, I like banana blueberry muffin bread.
You speak of this get-it-done early creature – interesting – I must reside on another planet as I don’t know this odd specimen – but that whisper of thanks – that I understand. Thanks for sharing, Luke.