It seems like a simple question: “Is it bad to be late?” For me, the answer always seemed straight-forward. My Dad taught me that if you weren’t 10 minutes early, you were late. And that seemed like sage advice.
If we figure in an extra 10 minutes and our schedule goes cock-eyed, we’ve got wiggle room and we’ll still be on time. And if we’re early, we can always sit in the car, relax, and read a book. The most interesting people I know are well-read, so an extra book or two will never hurt, right?
If I’m discussing timeliness with my teenage son, the answer will be an emphatic, “Absolutely! Being on time is always important.” But is the question, or the answer, really as simple as that?
If we’ve learned anything from the past two years, I hope it’s the respectful understanding that we can disagree with others, without judgement. ‘The other’ perspective may be educated and carefully considered like our own but may be based in emotions or experience we don’t share. So, their conclusions might be very different from our own.
But we aren’t talking about life and death or personal rights here. We're talking about whether it's rude to be late, right? Is this really a part of our spiritual foundation? Surprisingly, this question can be just as emotion and judgement filled as the other issues we’ve been facing recently.
So, I’ve shared my gut-reaction to this question. I’m a type-A personality and exceedingly conscious of schedules and being on time. But if you’re not someone who’s early or on time, bear with me. I recognize there are other perspectives to be considered.
I inherited two wonderful stepchildren when I married my husband. My new mother-in-law offered scarce little in the way of advice but told me that she always admired Kevin and his ex-wife for not ‘rushing’ the children. She said that children worked at their own pace, and she was inspired by their patience with children, even when it meant they might be late.
At the time, I thought that was a weird thing to say. Of course you do not want to lose your patience. But the thing you admire most is not about a strong foundation in God and family and love? Not about the importance of education, good nutrition, vitamins and minerals, or a good-nights sleep? The most important thing is to allow the kids to be late?
As my own son grew, I maintained my foundational belief about timeliness. A schedule was a schedule and shouldn’t be ignored. After all, there are plenty of great reasons to be on time:
- It demonstrates humility and respect for the people your meeting.
- It builds rapport with a team that relies on you.
- It demonstrates your commitment to a project or meeting.
- It demonstrates leadership skills
- It keeps you on schedule
- By never feeling rushed, it reduces stress and increases productivity
As children do, my son constantly challenged my beliefs. "Can we snuggle on the sofa, or is it too close to bedtime?" Did we have to have dinner at 6:30 and was there time for one more push on the playground swings?
He’s a morning dilly-dallier and we’d often find ourselves rushing to get to school on time. He’d be snuggling the cat, and I’d be pointing to my imaginary watch to keep us moving.
One time as I was rushing him out of grandma and grandpas’ house he asked, “do we have time to run in and hug grandma goodbye?” All that time I thought I had been teaching good lessons about respect for others, but in that moment, I realized I was simultaneously teaching disrespect for himself and his own needs.
If you’re expecting this to be one of those “aha” moments, where I say I’ve completely changed my ways and we all lived happily ever after, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. But I have found a new way of considering schedule and timeliness; one with more flexibility that allows for life, love and passions to sometimes get in the way.
There is no doubt. Life is short and our time is precious, so how do we use it to fill ourselves while simultaneously respecting others?
Like everything else, it’s a balancing act of good and bad, the concept of yin and yang, on time and late! And we choose our priorities every moment of the day.
It starts the moment we wake up. Do we snooze the alarm, allowing the sirens’ call of our bamboo pillow to pull us down for 5 more minutes? Or do we toss aside our buttery soft bamboo sheets, tear off our bamboo viscose pajama set, forgo the comfort of furry slippers and head straight for the shower?
For me, it now depends on the day, the weather, and sometimes, the pajamas I chose the night before! If I foolishly chose a sleeveless v-neck nightgown or PJ set and the temperature dropped, I’m probably headed straight to hot water heaven. But in my cozy organic cotton and bamboo pajama pants and favorite long sleeve top… I’m choosing the siren’s call and 5 more minutes!
Did my son sneak in during the night and I’m smack in the middle of a love sandwich between him and my husband? 5 more minutes. Throw in Zsa Zsa the dog at our feet and a cat or two kneading the bread of our love sandwich, and even I can dilly dally an extra 15 minutes!
So as a lifelong time-tyrant, am I justifying being late, just because you have cozy pajamas and luxurious bed linens? I can’t quite go that far yet.
I maintain my position that being on time demonstrates respect for the people around you and reduces your own stress.
But there is life to be considered and sometimes, just sometimes, life, love and the comfort of a warm hug can supersede our schedule.
Sweet Dreams Always,