I missed a self-imposed deadline on Saturday.
Recurring: publish a post on Saturday.
Self-imposed: my effort to draw myself back to writing for real versus writing for rent.
I blew it.
I had my reasons.
But a deadline is a deadline. Or is it?
What does deadline even mean anymore?
With an etymological history that twists all the way back to civil war prisons and 19th century printing presses, the “line” was often imaginary. Yet, the word probably provoked terror among civil war POWs. Crossing the often unmarked imaginary line in a civil war prison could be lethal.
Today we wrap deadlines around our clocks and calendars, then toss them about with nonchalance. We start at a tender age, disguising the deadly words as “due dates” and end of term projects.
As our minds grow callous from rubbing against the calendars and clocks, we link our deadlines. Chains: The test is Tuesday. The term paper is due Friday. You’ll get your grade on Monday. If the chain is broken, Monday might be blue day.
Deadlines are the modern day ball and chain.
They’re often impossible. We toss about our calendars and clocks, and create a fabulously heavy ball. Everyone knows it will be a miracle to roll that ball up the mountain to that deadline. Yet, that is the deadline. When the weight of ball overtakes every effort and it rolls back down, smashing all the other little deadlines leading up to the big one, we regroup and reboot our calendars and clocks to start the deadline chain game again. Or we lose everything.
Deadlines are real.
I missed my deadline on Saturday. I didn’t lose my job over it. No company lost millions. Yet I was dismayed.
We learn mundane urgencies that we don’t always call deadlines, yet they are. “Tend to the garden or the plants will die.” They cross the dead line.
Plants have one. Pets have one. People have one. They all eventually die.
If they matter to us, we must nurture and enjoy them while we can. We don’t think of these things in terms of deadlines, but there is a deadline, an ending.
Sometimes our mundane deadlines are the most significant and real parts of our lives. I missed most of my daughter’s senior-year events because I was scrambling to meet “important” deadlines for a textbook. I don’t remember what I had to do for those deadlines nor why I chose them over senior-year events. I will always remember, however, that my daughter attended the senior breakfast without a parent. I missed the more significant and real deadline.
Even in the 19th century, “deadline” evoked dismay. Printers would dismay when their words spilled past the deadline on their printing press.
I dismayed when my words didn’t make it to the deadline.
I’ll do better. I’ve made tiny and big promises to myself over the last few years to be present. That means being present with an open ear and heart for family and friends. It also means honoring the imaginary and insignificant deadlines I impose on myself.
So does this post make up for the deadline I blew on Saturday? No, silly wabbit! I’m not a time-traveler and Saturday is gone. But today I chose to take a few minutes for myself and meet my Tuesday deadline to share something I wrote for real.
Do something real for yourself today. It matters.
Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.
Click here for more information on the origin of the word “Deadline”.