Birthday of Casey Stengel (1890), who said “there comes a time in every man’s life and I’ve had plenty of ’em,” and C. Northcote Parkinson (1909), whose eponymous law decrees the expansion of work “to fill the time available for its completion.”
Don’t I know it. I’d like to repeal that one, or amend it with a provision that the quality of work expands indefinitely to match extended time. That would not be necessary, if real deadlines were imposed. But those only work if they’re accurately anticipated and scrupulously enforced. Douglas Adams (1952-2001) said it best, before his own final deadline arrived (as they do) unannounced : “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” He must have said that before he died, Casey might have observed. Or Yogi.
I was extolling the virtue of patience yesterday, of taking small steady steps towards the largest destinations and goals in our lives. But reflecting on deadlines, especially the big one at the end, challenges that mindset. Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), when asked about his least favorite virtue, named (of course) “Faith. Closely followed, in view of the overall shortage of time, by patience.”
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