Learning the Significance of Timing

Timing is a huge factor in life.  Underestimated, though.

You wish to ignore it.  Or, you seek to control it.  You are too anxious to wait for it.  Or, you are too afraid to embrace it.

A book I am reading, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, has set my mind to thinking about it.  Each chapter begins with a letter written by A.J.F. to his daughter.  A.J. owns a book store.  His intimate relationship to books and stories is the well from which he draws wisdom for his letters.

One letter is inspired by The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte.  A.J. writes:

Overly sentimental tale of a mining camp that adopts an “Ingin baby” whom they dub Luck.  I read it for the first time at Princeton in a seminar called the Literature of the American West and was not moved in the least.  In my response paper (dated November 14, 1992), the only thing I found to recommend it were the colorful character names:  Stumpy, Kentucky, French Pete, Cherokee Sal, etc.  I chanced upon “The Luck of Roaring Camp” again a couple years ago and I cried so much you’ll find that my Dover Thrift Edition is waterlogged.  Methinks I have grown soft in my middle age.  But me-also-thinks my latter-day reaction speaks to the necessity of encountering stories at precisely the right time in our lives.  Remember, Maya:  the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa.  This is true in books and also in life.


Timing often determines whether you accept or reject something.

College wasn’t the right time for A.J. to grasp the value in a particular story.  It wasn’t his fault.  From where he was sitting, he couldn’t see it.  It was out of his view.

He lacked the experience to catch the significance.  The perspective wasn’t there for him. As time passed by, his life created a framework through which he could see more.

The next occasion the same story intersected his life the timing was right.  He embraced it as if a veil was lifted from his eyes.

You could retell the same truth with different details.  You read something, heard something, ate something, felt something, tried something, or saw something you rejected in your younger years.  Maybe you didn’t reject, but you definitely didn’t accept it.  You brushed it off as insignificant.

Then, one day, the timing was right.  You accept it as a meaningful part of who you are.

Timing can’t be forced.

I would like it to be.  It would fit much better in my timeline.  My plans would unfold much smoother.

I wish I could drop a book or an invitation into your lap, and poof, you accept it right away.  It would make preaching much easier.  Parenting, too.

Not gonna happen.  You need to be in the right place to receive it.  I need to trust that someday the timing will be right.

Because I believe it will.

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