You Have Every Right To Judge
Okay let’s do this.
I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I’m strangely less anxious than usual although I still have plenty to get done this weekend, not least of all: this.
Let’s talk about timeliness aye? That thing we all seem to reach for but never manage. A concept we use to judge others as unprofessional but excuse ourselves from as “I’m just creative”.
I live in Los Angeles, capital of “I’m always 15 minutes late”. This whole city seems to run a clock that’s half an hour fast (or slow depending how you want to look at the metaphor and where you consider the center of the universe). Nothing here starts on time. Even movies have a tendency to begin a few minutes late. And it’s not a low-key thing either. It’s not a factor of an easy-going San Fran style philosophy of taking it easy. This whole city in competition with New York of being the most strung out metropolis of the country. Everyone is busy. Everyone has got multiple plates spinning. Everyone is doing their thing and interested in collaborating and seeing your one man show: if only they could find the time. Just having a social life in LA is it’s own hustle™.
And yet, here I am, constantly getting props for always being on time. To auditions, to meetings, to parties: doesn’t matter where I’m going, I will usually be at least 15 minutes early if not more. Rare is it that I’m late enough that I actually arrive exactly on the scheduled minute. I’m just there at the time promised.
Now granted, it doesn’t amount to much. Everyone is still always late. The rest of the city still runs on it’s schedule. Sure you get props for being so timely but at the end of the day no one is usually there to appreciate your dedication.
Benjamin Franklin is credited for having purchased a wheel barrel he would push around town. An old noise thing he would lug around during work hours to provoke the attention of those around him. He didn’t work very often at all, but when people saw him, he was usually working and there for assumed him a hard worker.
Being on time is a practice. Something that is worked on with attention every day. A lot of it isn’t in your control: traffic, natural disasters, slow service. But what you are in control of, like any task, is the amount you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.
That’s what I realized this week in a conversation with someone I could easily call a stranger as hopeful I am they we’re going to become close friends. She was fifteen minutes late… well, maybe ten. Point was she didn’t plan on it. Which is funny because I was twenty minutes early and I had assumed I was going to be late.
“I’m always late,” she told me. Despite her efforts to be otherwise.
“That’s odd, I am usually always on time.” I said, genuinely surprised by the realization.
“I just never seem to find time for everything.” is what I remember her saying.
“Well, that’s the thing: you can’t do everything. You’re going to sacrifice something and it’s just matter of whether or not you’re going to sacrifice something for being on time or sacrifice being on time for something else. In the end it all about what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Ok it wasn’t that eloquent but it was the general gist and it helped me enforce a certain notion: few things are in our control but our choices still say a lot about what matters to us.