So you think you know what a ‘deadline’ is? So did I. But I double-checked today when I saw this van.
Historically, it is “a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot”. Hhhmmmm. Today, most of us would understand it as “a date or time before which something must be done” though. But what on earth is a “Deadline Courier”? Historically. Today. To me this is some marketeer’s mind gone bananas.
Deadlines are not inspiring. They have a feel of “time running out”, or “the end is near”. They also have a connotation of finality. It’s similar to something expiring. Once a deadline has passed, there’s no going back. Systems like deadlines because they put people under pressure to deliver. Or at least they create the illusion.
In my mind, deadlines are like plans. They always make me think of the old jewish joke about God laughing when he sees man making plans. And anyway, if something is important, it’s worth waiting for or working towards it – always with as much dedication as possible, but not pressurised, not threatened.
Yet systems put deadlines even on sick people. Like three months in the National Rehabilitation Hospital and you’re out. You’re expired and categorised as a no-hoper if you’re not recovering after one of those enforced, completely farcical deadlines.
Pádraig and I went to St Patrick’s College (now part of the ‘University of Enterprise’, aka Dublin City University) and joined one of their weekly lunch time concerts. It was such a pleasure to listen to these young really talented musicians, all 45 of them, playing trad and contemporary music for just about 45 minutes. It was a real treat. The walk through the park crossing the little river and passing young kids playing in the play ground. Getting into the College. Sitting amongst young, bright, beautiful, enthusiastic students. Seeing and hearing them perform their own versions of great pieces of music. Sitting down beside the river on the way back. Talking with Pádraig, Wondering what the sea gulls were doing in the middle of the city, miles away from the coast. No pressure, nothing to do, no deadline.
PS: A former student sent me a link to a very funny video. It’s a skit on Apple (or on the people buying Apple products?). It’s in Spanish with English subtitles. The curious thing is that the subtitles have nothing got to do with the original words, just with the ‘action’. I thought it was getting better as I was watching it, it took me some time to get into the whole thing. At the end I was just laughing… and there is nothing better you could do than having a good auld laugh. Right?