Timing can be strange.
Two weekends ago, my friends Tara and Randy welcomed their daughter Avianna into the world. She’s beautiful, behaves like a snoozy, hungry little angel – and she was six weeks early.
Meanwhile, on my patio, I have four pepper plants growing: two jalapenos, one anaheim, and one serrano. All of the plants are tall and green and healthy-looking, but this entire summer, only the jalapenos and serrano have produced spicy little fruit … until yesterday, when I peered down amongst the stems and leaves and saw not one, not two, but three pepperlings placidly hanging from the anaheim. Surprise!
My mom has always averred that life is a matter of timing. But timing is a funny, fickle creature. It doesn’t seem to be swayed much by human intervention or preconception. I don’t know about anyone else, but I for one constantly seek the elusive line between “Be patient” and “Make your own luck: take charge of your destiny.”
It happens in running all the time. An over-exuberant new runner, or a runner excited about training for some future event, will do too much too soon. They’ll injure themselves or get burned out, or both. Conversely, it’s no good to wait too long to push the pace in a race, and consequently get left in the dust, or worse, get left in a cloud of what-ifs: “What if I had gone out a little faster, or kicked earlier?”
And of course it happens elsewhere, the vacillation between impatience and slamming on the brakes. On the job, in relationships, even in cooking – 30-minute meals are great, but that bread will still need an hour in the oven. How often do all these things get caught in the middle of that tug-of-war?
Where nature has us humans beat, I think, is in its glorious lack of thought, its utter disregard for our concept of timing. Nature owns no clocks or calendars, and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “punctuality.”
After all, immediately before my friends’ baby arrived, did that baby realize she still had over a month to go? Was she agonizing over her decision? Was it even a decision? No. She was simply ready to be born, so she was born, and in perfect health.
And as for my anaheim pepper plant, did it matter that I tried to will it and coax it to sprout peppers for months before that actually happened? No. That plant took its time, and I’m sure the peppers will be delicious.
What’s the difference between “good timing” and “on time”? I’m still trying to figure that one out. How rare is it that when, or how quickly, we think something should happen perfectly matches when, or how quickly, it actually does happen? How stressed out do we get about that stuff?
All I know is, between early arrivals and late bloomers, nature has surprised me recently, and everything turned out just fine. So maybe there’s something to that: letting nature take its course, and take its time; and taking your time. And who knows what pleasant surprises will come of it?