On Timekeeping


I’ve yet to reset the clock in my car. It proudly displays a time about three and a half hours behind Eastern Standard Time. My dad replaced the battery in my car in July, initially setting my clock on its belated schedule.  It’s October now and I still haven’t moved it forward. This has nothing to do with being lazy or forgetful and everything to do with denial. I’m consistently late for everything. My entire life I’ve struggled with time management. If the clock in my car is three and a half hours early, it gives me the blessed illusion of having more time than I really do. Reality is rarely my friend when it comes to time. No matter how hard I try, I vastly misjudge the amount of time it takes me to accomplish things. Cleaning my bedroom? Oh my goodness, that will take hours, days even! Writing that 10 page essay? Oh, no problem, I can finish that in 2 hours, tops! I’ve even been known to attempt to bend both time and space and traverse great distances in a miniscule amount of time. This venture is of course unsuccessful and inevitably leads to my being late.

I owe both my life and my sanity to the creator of the personal calendar. Without easy access to my schedule, I would likely overbook myself to the most unbelievable degree. I have been known to schedule appointments and rehearsals within minutes of each other, half way across town. I drive on a wing and a prayer, hoping that no unforeseen disaster will keep me from meeting my obligations. I’ve even gone so far as to say, “well, if I leave this rehearsal 30 minutes early, I can make it to the last few hours of this other rehearsal across town and even have time to eat in my car along the way!”

“But, what about homework? What about practicing for your voice lesson?” the more logical parts of my brain object as I triple-book myself with commitments.

“Oh, somehow I’ll get it all done! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Time stops for no man! Carpe Diem! Time is on our side! YOLO!”

It was about mid-October.  I sat staring at my three-hour time buffer car clock and realized that I had just used “YOLO” to justify my tendency to over-schedule my life. I began to rethink my actions.

There is just as much reason to say “No,” when it comes to scheduling obligations as there is to saying “Yes.” It wasn’t until I began trying to juggle schoolwork with a bourgeoning social life, and an increased involvement in theater that I fully realized the value in saying “no.” To be honest, that’s the cookie-cutter, politically correct rationalization. The real realization came when I got severe food poisoning and spent an entire morning vomiting through tears and all I could think of was “I could be doing so much homework right now if I wasn’t sick!”

I should never have allowed time to run away from me. I should never have allowed my schedule to reach the point where missing out on a few days due to illness nearly causes my plans to erupt in futility, hours of effort flowing away from me like hot lava from the volcano that had become my life.

Begrudgingly, I’ve made the decision to reset the clock in my car. Three months is long enough to live with my time buffer. It’s time I learn how to bowl without the bumpers. I’m reaching the age where it is no longer cute to be consistently late for everything. Eventually, I’ll have to learn how to manage my own time, instead of allowing time to drag me around on its heels. Time will pass regardless of whether or not I have any understanding of how to properly schedule myself. I’m much better off, in the long run, learning how to go along for the ride rather than trying to fight against the tide. Time will catch up with me eventually, even if I think I’m three and a half hours ahead.