Deadlines. Emphasis on the ‘dead’…

The phrase ‘Deadline’ must be the biggest misnomer of a buzzword since the days that being gay meant you were happy. For a start ‘dead’ implies, well… dead. No life, no spark, no vitality or freshness. Line is vaguely acceptable as it hints at something to cross, something to aim at. I’m afraid dead simply doesn’t cut it, it has absolutely nothing to do with delivering the goods.

Where does this erroneous saying come from anyway? Cavewoman Unk draws a line in the sand with her fat hairy toe and says to Caveman Onk, “You get Yak for dinner. You no cross line with Yak, you dead.” Voila. Deadline. Or maybe from the shoeless, gravid, kitchen bound babe of the 50’s: “You Line my palm with some Greenbacks Honey, or you’re as good as Dead.”

Okay, so maybe my imagination is a little overactive, but the word doesn’t work like that in real life. Ask me, I know. You see the sad truth is, left to my own devices I am the queen of procrastination. You only need look as far as my sewing basket for the evidence. I have some half-finished baby-gro’s lurking in there and my daughter’s now headed for Grade 7. Say no more… Entire weeks can be swallowed in a blur of meaningless activity, aimless attempts at keeping the millstone of life turning. Energy levels bottom-out and a gloomy blanket of pointlessness settles on the household. Ghastly replaces fine as the answer to ‘How was your day?’ Tired, the only response manageable to ‘How are you feeling?’ and not enough covers the standard morning ‘How did you sleep?’ You know you’re in trouble when you’re too tired to go to bed at night.

Yet, drop a project into my onerous world, slap a deadline on it and I come ALIVE. The metamorphosis is nothing short of miraculous. My entire life falls into neatly segmented time chunks, worked in reverse chronologically from The Deadline. Getting out of bed happens spot on at 6, and even the most mundane tasks come into their own as they are allocated space on the hallowed Meeting the Deadline Time Table. There’s a peculiar energy created while working within a limited time frame that feeds the inner creative genius. Moments on the loo that would have been wasted staring at blue paint with thoughts of little consequence floating from ear to ear become powerhouse times of divine inspiration.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that all the really good inventions were thought up on the loo. Think about it. There is Thomas Edison, hiding out in the outhouse with his crossword trying to escape Mrs Edison’s nagging. And the sun goes down. What’s a guy to do? In a flash of brilliant illumination, the light bulb is born. How about Mr Bell who spent hours a day labouring with parchment and quill responding to letters from home, unable to tear himself away to rescue his bladder with a visit to the Water Closet. The obvious solution? Instant communication. Ta-daa! The golden age of the phone bill is upon us. And you thought Newton discovered gravity by watching an apple drop. A deadline is the spine from which the bones of my life hang suspended – each in its place, ready to perform the function it was built for.

Remove the spine, and you have a soggy bag of bones, covered with some skin that’s going nowhere fast. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but The List seems to be a close friend of The Deadline. In fact, one spawns the other, in the female version of the universe anyway. Whether that stretches far enough to include the male species is beyond me. It certainly doesn’t apply to my husband, who keeps all his lists in his head. He also doesn’t have a diary. The thought of it sends me into a wreck of quivering nerves. I’m too scared to even ask what the ‘D’ word does for him, if anything at all.

So what should we call this thing? This motivator of the masses, lifeblood to the lost. An aliveline? Hmm, a bit of a tongue twister. Not quite the mouth aerobics I want to subject myself to on a regular basis. An inspiringline? A little too close to firing line for my liking. Motivatingline? This is getting worse by the minute. I suppose the only way that I wouldn’t meet a deadline – so strong is its compulsive motivation – is when there is no air left in my deadline-addicted body. Surely I would need to have expired to not rise to the sweet challenge. It occurred to me on the loo just now, that looking at it from that angle, Deadline is probably the most succinctly accurate term on the planet. And the secret to life is to build in our own, self-imposed DL’s. Well, this time chunk is up and if I’m to get to bed on time tonight I’d better move on. Happy DL’ing!

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