I was about to duck down a wooded path before a run the other day to – well, to pee – when I saw another lady emerging from the exact spot, cinching up her shorts.
Had I arrived 10 seconds earlier, we would’ve both been mortified. And this incident, so seemingly diurnal (pun intended), actually reminded me that life is really all about timing.
Timing is different from pacing. As a good friend of mine, who also has three, young children, likes to say, “Keep it moving.” She’s talking about pacing. When my 2-year-old starts fussing amongst the teacups in the Please Touch Museum, we don’t linger. We go home. Pacing is about knowing when it’s time to wrap up.
And pacing is more of a self-determined phenomenon than timing. For instance, when I was teaching high school English and students didn’t have their essays completed by the deadline, they would often claim that they ran out of “time.” What they really meant is that they didn’t pace themselves. Missing the school bus is a pacing issue.
But timing is different. One has less control over timing, and it involves more luck – good or bad. For instance, it was serendipitous timing that I did not arrive a few seconds earlier for my run, take the path (unbeknownst to me) more chosen, and stumble upon that squatting lady.
Bad timing was when I ran a stop sign in the early 1990s and collided with my college thesis adviser’s sedan. (That was also an example of colossally bad driving on my part.) A subcontractor emptying 18 Porta Potties during my son’s soccer game last Saturday was bad timing.
On the other hand, the next morning, it was great timing that I started a 10-mile run with friends at 7:30 and that the raindrops only began pelting my windshield on the drive home. Having grown up in Seattle, I’m not afraid of rain. But I am afraid that, when wet, my iPod shuffle shuts down, at which point, usually, so do I.
And good timing can prove more significant than simply dodging a rainstorm. For instance, my husband coincidentally starting his first day of holiday break from his athletic director job on the morning I went into labor to deliver our twins five weeks early was terrific timing. The fact that my husband had only finished his master’s thesis – that he’d been working on for roughly seven years – about a week prior to their birth, was more of a pacing issue, in my humble opinion.
While I clearly find these distinctions between timing vs. pacing to be fascinating, I fear I may alienate readers if I extend this exposition any further. So I’ll just quickly conclude by saying that I realize, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
But please, people, keep it moving.