Yesterday, I watched a guy run past me on the sidewalk after we got off the L station, where the bus had just left. I was on my way to the gym which is only a few blocks away, and so I almost always walk anyway. I imagined that perhaps he was running because he needed to get on that particular bus at that particular time and so he was running to meet the bus at its next stop which is not too far. I followed him with my eyes as far as I could. I was secretly rooting for him, hoping he would catch that bus. It was like watching the “airport run” that many of us are familiar with. And every time I watch this or have been one of those running myself, all I am thinking in the moment is, “Please make it, please don’t be late; please God, let me be on time.”
I think a lot of things in life are about good timing. We are told from a young age that, “to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.” And many of us plan our lives, deliberately and subconsciously; more often than not in the hope that when opportunity arrives, we will be primed for it. We often fail to factor in that all plans have an Achilles’ heel, because of the capacity for human error and the possibility of the unexpected to interrupt everything. And despite being victims of the unexpected time and time and again, we continue to plan because we are creatures of habit. Not only that, but even when we’ve been told that it is best to live for the day, we live for tomorrow as well. Perhaps part of maintaining one’s sanity, is to believe in tomorrow. And if you are hopeful, to believe that tomorrow will be better.
One of the accusations of human beings and particularly of those of us in our young adulthood is that we think we’re always going to be so young; we live as if we’re always going to be so young. But time goes by so quickly. And most of us are so caught up in all of the things that make up our lifestyles, to even stop and think about how we’re using our time; to even stop to remember that our time is our life. When you’re out of time, you’ll be dead. But between now and then, how are you going to be spending your time and your life? Creating a lifestyle or creating and living a life? Too many of us are concerned with the former and don’t pay enough attention to the latter. And our tomorrows become our yesterdays in the meantime.
We spend too much time planning, and not enough doing, and yet it is the follow-through that matters the most. Whatever you want, you have to commit to the follow-through and when life throws you a curve ball, you deal with it. We’re hiding behind our fears and insecurities in work, in love, and in life. But no great idea has ever come to pass without action and beyond action, without the perseverance to keep going even when the path was filled with setbacks. And I know that sometimes in life, we will have to give up because we did do our best and things just don’t work out for a reason I like to call Divine Providence; call it whatever you must. But most of the time I can’t help but believe that it’s just when things are looking bleak, when things are at their darkest; that moment where giving up seems like the most rational option – at the other end of it if we make it, is exactly what we’ve been looking for, or usually something better.
I’m a (closet) romantic and so I imagined when I saw that guy running to catch the bus that he was running because he had a very important date to keep with a very special person. I imagined that this person was so special that being late was something that he wasn’t about to entertain, so much so that he was willing to chase down the bus. I couldn’t see far enough to see if he actually made it or the reason that he was even running at all, was to catch the bus. But I like to think that whatever the reason he was running, he got to wherever he needed to go; he got what he wanted, and he got it on time. Because he looked pretty darn crazy running down that sidewalk, and in my version of events, trying to catch that bus.
Still, whether it’s work or love or friendship or everything else that makes up our lives, I hope that when it counts that I’d be willing to be this guy; to run like a crazy person after something that I just missed, in the hope that I’d catch it at its next stop. And I hope you will too. Possibly thinking, “Please make it, please don’t be late; please God, let me be on time.” And whether we actually make it or not, there’s a certain satisfaction that will come with knowing we’ve done what we could. And if you ever need any encouragement when you find yourself running crazily to catch something, remember there might be a stranger you run past, with an overactive imagination, who’s secretly rooting for you.