I’ve got a wall calendar hanging on my closet door. I’ve got a day planner on my dressr. I’ve got a montly schedule written out on a whiteboard. The date appears in the lower right-hand corner of my laptop’s screen.
Now go ahead…ask me what day it is?
Odds are, with all of those dately things, I have no idea. I’d like to blame that on the lack of a regular job to help keep my days in check, but even when I had one, I might know the day of the week, but not the number of the month.
Not that knowing what day it is helps me in the grand scheme of things anyway because I have no concept of time. You hear people all the time say how events sneak up on them and how they didn’t realize it was so close. It’s usually because they’re busy. They’ve got their heads down, doing their thing, and when they look up, holy cow, it’s here.
For me, it’s a fact of my existence. I have no concept of time.
I can look at a date on the calendar. I can count the days from one date to another. But those days in between have no meaning for me. I have no concept of that distance.
For example, my credit card bill is due the same time of every month. I know this. When the first of the month comes around, I look at that due date and think I have plenty of time to scrape together all of the change I can dig out of couches and pick up out of gutters to pay the bill. In reality, it’s only about two weeks. And I’m ace at neglecting the timing of things like money transfers and deposits after three being processed the next day and other banking matters. I’ve cut it more than close on many occasions because I cannot grasp the fact that two weeks really isn’t that much time.
And I do it every single month.
For whatever reason, my brain will not learn this fact. It cannot process time any other way.
I say that I don’t remember birthdays and anniversaries, but the truth is, I do. I just can’t remember them in relation to the real world.
My stepdad’s birthday is December 7th. I know that. Ask me and I’ll tell you. I bought him a card. But that date means nothing to me on December 1st. I think I still have time to send him the card. Which is why I don’t mail the card until December 5th and it’s late. It’s why I hate sending cards. I have no concept of timing it so that it arrives in a timely fashion, not too early, not late.
Or I might know the date, but if I don’t know what day it is, there’s no way I can “remember” it. More than once I’ve been caught off guard by a birthday because I didn’t know the date.
My lack of skill with time has consistently caused me trouble. I’m better off not waiting on a deadling. The sooner I get something finished, the less likely I have the opportunity to screw it up. This is ONE thing that my brain has thankfully learned through repeated near-misses during my early school days. I’m sure it seemed nerdy and suck-upish by the time I hit college and I was getting my research papers done well before the deadline, but I didn’t go to college to be hip.
The approach works for academics. I can get it to work for writing, for the most part. It doesn’t work as well for buying Christmas presents or mailing things because for whatever reason, my brain insists that I have time.
It’s a constant struggle and it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to overcome or fix, and not for lack of trying either.
So until I can get the concept of time to click in this beat up brain of mine, I’m going to continue to be that guy that disappoints people with my late cards and cutting things far too close.
There. I’m not late.