It’s all in the timing. The line carries so many connotations for me these days. First, David Ive’s “All in the Timing” was my first high school theatre production where I played a monkey named Milton who, along with two other monkeys, was part of an experiment to see if you put some monkeys and typewriters together if one would end up writing Shakespeare. Then there is a Gwyneth Paltrow movie my mother and I reference often called Sliding Doors that captures how one small thing can lead a person down a different path. Neither of us have seen it since the 1990s, but it left an impression on us. Also playing around my mind is Life Course Theory that I came across during my May grad qualitative research methods class that involves the researcher looking into how earlier events influence future events and choices in a person’s life.
The thoughts about timing continue. Being nostalgic, I can look at those little moments that I had no idea would send me in a trajectory at the time. For honors, it was a chance encounter in the hallway of the union. For my current job, it was my swinging by the office to see how the summer was. Even the timing of my taking the English instructor job at HCC had the amusing story of timing with my meeting my chair the second time after the interview and acceptance of the job at Edinburgh’s Waverly Station thanks to both of our very different travels placing us in the same place on the same night. If my path would have varied even so slightly, I am sure my life would have gone in a different direction with those chance conversations leading to so many different experiences, people, and ideas that put me on a whole different trajectory.
Then there are the timings of relationships. A chance conversation and a quick decision to jump sessions and go to another at a medieval conference back in 2005 led to my meeting Jon, one of my best friends.
Another story about timing involves my running across the French Quarter to a coffee shop that was about to close where I ran face-to-face into Andrew, another kindred soul who too has altered my life’s course.
There is also Erica whose friendship literally saved my life. We met in middle school where I annoyed her greatly, and then in high school, our friendship developed. One late evening in college, I was leaving a wedding reception in Overland Park and pulled up to the light to turn onto 135th street and head back to Emporia. The dark evening brought nothing but quietness to the area. The light turned green, and I moved my foot to the gas just when Erica called my cell phone. With no one behind me, I paused and grabbed my phone from the passenger seat to look up and see a car going at least 50 miles per hour run the red light. Erica had just got this urge that Saturday evening to give me a call for really no reason, and her doing so at that exact moment my foot was about to move from the brake to the gas pedal kept my driver’s side door from being right in line with that speeding car.
That is at least one sliding door I know I barely missed. The count could be many more and never be known. Andrew touched upon that with his text last week during the kidney stone ordeal: “Let’s just hope the world was threatening you with a serious car accident or meteor strike or something this week and this is the way said cataclysm was averted.” While this is uncertain, as I responded to Andrew, it, for sure, averted me from Type II diabetes (thank you, genetics, for that predisposition). As mentioned in the last post, the little calcium oxalate demon jump started my life to move me into Ryan 14.0. The effects, though, went far beyond that. The stone derailed me from one track of a great weekend planned with a potential romantic interest to another that included seeing an unbelievable amount of caring from people in my life (including that potential romantic interest); reading both Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which led to my plan to incorporate into my world quite a few items he mentioned, and my cousin Nona Morrison’s The Ghost Juggler, which was enjoyable and amusing as well as inspiring to get back to work on own novel; finishing my final project for my second summer class long before its due date (take that, Instant Gratification Monkey!); cleaning many rooms in my house while telling myself I am an adult now and I should be able to keep a clean house; and so on. Only in the future will I be able to look back and see the exact trajectory on which the kidney stone launched me, but there is no doubt its effects will be far beyond its sharp pains and such.
Also this weekend I tried to write two previous blog posts that popped into my head during the month of June. The first was my reaction to Orlando with my connecting it to the 2011 GOP Presidential Debate where the gay soldier was booed, the negative effects many religions had caused, and a theory of why people chose to hide rather than fight, which I heard often people asking. The other was about Brexit and how the 40 and under crowd in the United States needed to look at it as a wake up call. I played around with both, but ultimately, it seemed like the window to write and post each had passed, and that is the other thing about timing – if we pause too long, we lose our chance.
Each point in our lives offers us different opportunities, and time can change those because of relevance and our abilities. Learning a language is much easier earlier in one’s life. Going on crazy, long hiking adventures is much easier to do before full-time jobs, pets, and kids. Staying in good shape is much easier when metabolism is helping us out. However, rather than sitting around and regretting my missed times to seize the day, I am going to learn from those, do a better job evaluating the opportunity cost of my decisions, and finally accomplish my ongoing New Year’s Resolution of domesticating the instant gratification monkey, for doing that will unlock many more other goals I want to tackle.
Ultimately, as we all know, time is the most precious thing we have to give our work, our goals, and our people in our lives. Timing, though, can be even more important, for even something as simple as hearing a song that captures a moment to being at a coffee shop at the right second to look across the room and see the smile of a stranger who will later become a best friend can change who we are and the course we are traveling for this short time we have here on Earth. The key is not to let those moments slip between our fingers, and if they do, rather than try to battle fate which sometimes can lead to wins like those who submitted and achieved Craigslist Missed Connections, learn from the past, be ready to truly live in the present, and embrace all in the timing.
And now for some songs:
First, the song that wakes me up each morning (at least for the mornings I sleep in until my alarm sounds):
And the song that John, another best friend of mine, has sent me in many different versions (including one he sang) to the point the song is really ours now (and it connects well with the theme of this post I think):