sorry i'm late.
I’m probably going to be late to my own funeral.
I actually want to be cremated and potted with a tree and grow into a tree that turns C02 to good air. That digs deep with roots into the ground and is patient. And serves as a home for the birds and the fungi and the squirrels and the worms. That provides shade and rest/relief.
But anyway, if I had a funeral, I’d probably be late to it. ‘Cause I’m late to everything. I was late to being born (almost over two weeks after my due date). I’ve been late to nearly all of my first days of school. Even in college. Even in grad school. I’ve been late to GRE class and job interviews. Nearly all first dates. I’ve been late to speak at meetings, to family dinners, therapy appointments. I had to wait until the end of the first act of a play to be seated because I was so late, once. I had to wait an hour and a half to be squeezed in for the next appointment slot with my doctor (more than once). I’ve been side-eyed stepping into the back of churches, classrooms, and yoga studios. I’ve been questioned about how I even got in to certain places because the door is supposed to be buzzed but I waited like a scavenger to enter as someone exited and slunk in like the Grinch. (I’m coming for you (late), Yoga to the People).
In senior year of high school I was told to stand outside of the door to my first period classroom and not to knock, just to stand there and wait so as not to disturb others with my lateness.
I’ve been late to weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and funerals. I regularly miss my morning BART train.
All this practice being late, you might think I’d be comfortable with the practice of repercussions of lateness.
The stares, eye rolls, attention eyes landing or dancing all over me (especially when my afro is at full mast). I’m not, though. It makes me so anxious to be seen walking in late that I’ve chosen not to walk in to certain places at all and have missed some things altogether. I have rushed cross town (even traveled to other cities), made it to the parking lot and noticed myself being late and just said ‘forget it’ because I can’t even stand the thought of being watched as I come in late. If my going to heaven is contingent upon my timeliness, I might not make it.
And it’s not that I don’t try. I do. I’ve tried waking up earlier. Getting my clothes out the night before. Took my shower at night. Saw myself (visually) in my seat before anyone else. Meditated on driving directions. Skipped meals, showers, paid too much for parking just to try to be on time. But it never lasts long. Before I know it, I’m right back into my practice of being late.
Why the hell does it take so much out of me to be on-time?!
I mean, to be fair, there are those things that I don’t want to be at so I take my time getting to them. Take my time rapping in the mirror or drawing on my eyebrows or staring into space during my shower until a thought of shame approaches and attacks me or talking to my dog about the anxiety of being late.
How do I fix it, though? Do I commit to being at less shit so my chances of being late are fewer? Do I make a commitment to being early? How do I break this cycle?
I realized I was addicted to the drama of lateness very recently.
I take pride in being drama-free—a communicator that diffuses drama but doesn’t shy away from conflict. So you can imagine my surprise when my addiction to the drama of lateness made itself known to me.
I’m addicted to the big drama of racing against the clock. To getting in that last thing I can possibly squeeze in before the pressure is on. The last sweet wink of sleep. The final errand before I’ve got to be somewhere across town. The latest possible second before my train arrives. How much can I squeeze in to get myself running (behind)? What’s the deadline? How close can I get to it without missing it? These are questions that were most quietly working against me (within me).
Clearly, I need more healthy thrill-seeking opportunities. Clearly, there are other ways to find drama and excitement in life. The good thing and the problem may be that it’s the perfect bad habit. Stakes are high but repercussions aren’t deadly. The underlying issue is that it’s an expensive habit, being late. I pay more for parking, late fees, other penalties, get way more doses of shame (real and imagined) than I should and my adrenal glands and nerves are eternally giving me an exhausted, fixed judging nudge.
Since writing this I’ve made a new commitment to commitment. I’m doing the work of transforming my life. Part of that includes changing my relationship to timeliness. If you are a person who is particularly good at being on-time:
How did you learn this skill? Where did you learn consistency? Where did you learn about schedules? When is a time you took care of yourself and managed to not be late/still on time? How did you learn to calculate/account for travel time?
Feel free to send me your best practices and recommendations!