Sunday, May 22, 2011

Don't Put Deadlines On Your Dreams

Well, the Rapture didn't happen and the world is trudging right along, just as it was on Friday. I'm not here to make a bunch of jokes at the expense of Harold Camping or his misguided followers; that's just too easy and has been done to death already. I'm sure they continue to believe, blaming their massive public failure - as they did in 1994 - on some miscalculation or misinterpretation of the data. They'll go back and recalculate the date of the Rapture and the End of Days, then grow old and die without seeing any such thing actually occur. If they're smart, though, they won't tell anyone the date, next time.

Do NOT put deadlines on your dreams. This Rapture business must be devastating to the people who believed in it. Some of those devotees gave up all of their savings. Now, not only are they broke, not only are they still here, but they're also an international punchline, devoid of any semblance of credibility forever. In a lot of ways, they probably feel as though the Rapture DID happen, but they were not taken, and are now in some sort of hell on earth. It's really hard for me to resist making fun of that.

I don't say this because I don't believe in the Rapture (although I don't), or because I don't think the world will end (it totally will). I just don't recommend giving something so important, so utterly massive, a due date. And not just Judgment Day, either. No good ever comes from declaring that aliens are coming to take you away in exactly six years, three days and seven hours.

A few other important things for which I don't recommend a drop-dead due date:

Don't go through college telling everyone that you will make your first million by age 25. This one is a lose-lose. If you don't make it, you'll think yourself a failure when that might not even be the case. If you do make your million by 25, you'll be a douche who nobody likes. And no matter what the outcome, you'll annoy all of your college friends to no end and they will stop at nothing to keep you from succeeding.

No deadlines on life stuff. You might meet Mr. Right and have a perfect little boy and a precious little girl and live in a darling little house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and a dog in the yard - all by age 30. Then again, you might meet Mr. Right and marry him, only to have him leave you for the grad student he works with at Best Buy. Or you might get stuck with two sons and no daughter. Or it could all happen, but not until you're 39.

You can't just declare that you'll learn to juggle in exactly 60 days. Recipe for disaster.

I can't tell you how many target dates for getting my first novel published have come and gone. I can't even finish reading a book in an arbitrarily-allotted amount of time.

There's no sense in telling everyone that your 1/64-scale replica of the 184-mile C&O Canal, constructed entirely of cherry tomatoes, frilly sandwich toothpicks and half-chewed Hubba Bubba gum, will absolutely, positively be finished before your middle-school "graduation." Heartbreak will ensue, trust me.

I knew a girl in college who, after breaking up with her boyfriend, told all her friends that she would be 100% over him in precisely 30 days. Guess who was still riddled with anger and drunk-dialing him almost a year later.

Two words: World Domination. Sure, it's a worthy and respectable goal, but put a deadline on it, miss that deadline, and watch the field day that Leno and Letterman and Conan have with your sorry ass.

Now, I'm not saying we should never use deadlines for any of our goals. Just try to stay away from assigning them to big, uncertain events. Keep them away from your dreams. You can't just say "I am going to be WELL, and dammit, I'm going to be well in 39 days." Try to be well, as soon as possible. Your body doesn't care one wit about the calendar - never has, never will.

It's also fine to prepare for the Rapture, if that's your thing. Just don't waste your life trying to figure out exactly when it's coming, then tell everyone in no uncertain terms that it absolutely WILL happen on Saturday only to watch as your dream fails to come true. If going to heaven is that important to you, just live your life in such a way that you're ready whether it comes tomorrow, or 540 years from tomorrow. How hard is that to do without a deadline? Is it me? It must be me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am stepping down from a multi-year prednisone regimen, and I am going to be done by July 1st. If July 1st comes, and I'm still on the stuff and/or not WELL, I don't know what I'll do.

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