By: Matt Gordon
Be on time (without judging those who aren’t).
The unseemly catch about having rules by which to live or aim toward is that I begin holding everyone else accountable to them. Foucault was a French philosopher who repackaged some ancient thoughts kind of like this:
A person wants to build and identity. (So far so good, right?) A person bases that identity on what that person chooses to value. Next this person shapes said identity by proving out that love. (Example: you choose a team to follow and then you begin watching that team play. Next, you buy that team’s merchandise.) That goes along and eventually a person reaches a point where they fortify identity through hatred for everyone who does not love the same thing as them. (This is the basis of sports rivalries, and the root cause of just about every other hatred, bigotry, and war that has ever occurred.)
So naturally when one makes a rule like, Be on time, a seed of resentment is planted for all of those laggards out there who are forever running late. Do not water this seed. Its roots will choke out any goodness that may come from living an intentional life. It is kind of like that scene in one of the Harry Potter films. The heroes are in a small bank-vault seeking a gold goblet among a horde of them. Whenever the wrong goblet is touched it multiplies. A good thing (gold) quickly becomes a deadly thing as there is less and less space in the room, threatening to squeeze out life. When our own beliefs are imposed on others without their consent, the breath of life and vitality are strangled; choice and love replaced by threat and fear.
But on to the rule because you have places to be and I would hate to make you late.
Time is so precious I must always consider what I am doing (or not doing) with it. What I can sometimes forget, though, is that the time of others is just as precious to them as it is to me. Here’s the thing: I don’t steal money from people. What a terrible high one must feel as a pickpocket! There you are walking one way, the mark is approaching from the opposite direction. As your paths cross, you deftly reach your hand into his pocket or her purse and pluck out value. They walk on less valuable in their direction as you saunter on, heart pounding, with an instantly increased worth. It would be exhilarating. The trouble is, it is wrong. It is wrong in itself, which should be prohibiting enough, but it is also considered wrong by the people who can decide legally if I am to spend time in jail or not. So I don’t reach in and take value from other people. Yet I’m willing unashamedly to snatch up their precious time.
If I had all the time in the world (just an unlimited weekly allotment of hours), I would have much more money. Think about it. I could work eighty-hour work weeks—I mean I have plenty of time now. I could double my pay. I could write something worthwhile or learn a skill that could be monetized, all while binge-watching Tiger King and carving out some hours to volunteer. So many options because there is now so much time. Time yields options and opportunities–it is the space in which life happens.
Now change the hypothetical and give me cash instead of time. All the money in the world cannot buy back a single second. Yes, with wealth I could maximize the time I have—faster car, jets, personal assistants and the like—but there is no buyback option. In the age-old jargon of picking a Popsicle from the box: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” In terms of time, we get what we get, fits or no.
What we can take from this is that time is actually more valuable than money, and hence all the things that money can buy. When I am late to meet with someone, late in coming home to support my wife, late for play time with my sons, I am, in essence, robbing something sacred from another person. I am also making a direct statement in regards to valuation: my time is more valuable than yours. This is markedly false and stupendously selfish.
Of course, I’ll be late. But I’m nearly certain I’ll be late more often if I make my decisions and schedule without the proper emphasis and perspective. When I don’t think of others—and their time—as important, of course I’ll be flippant with it. Further, I won’t have regret when I am late, and it is very hard for repentance to happen where there is no regret. In short, I’ll coast along through life without stewarding the most precious resource on earth and serving other people with it.
I want to mind the clock as a tangible way of expressing my love for others. They are worth it, and by showing up when I said I would, I’m truly making most of the time, filling it with purpose and love.
Be on time (without judging those who aren’t).
(Quick Virus Application (QVA-19) – This is weird, right? Because of social distancing games and gatherings are canceled. Live sports gone. Many of us have countless hours “given back.” Yet, the days are flying by. I can’t find the hours I need to improve, to build new things. What this means, for me at least, isn’t that there isn’t enough time, but that I’m bad with it. I spend too much time on the wrong things and not enough thinking toward the right ones. In a cosmic way, this is a form of tardiness. I’m late in approaching the things prepared for me to do. I’m late in heeding the call on my life. So, in these “slower” paced days, it gives great opportunity to consider my hours, my minutes—to contemplate my days and revisit my dreams and desires. By being on time in utilizing my gifts and talents, it will create margin and purpose in and through the other areas of my life.)