Appointments (October 12)


“Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person’s money as his time” (Horace Mann).

AN APPOINTMENT IS AN ARRANGEMENT TO DO SOMETHING OR MEET SOMEONE AT A PARTICULAR TIME AND PLACE. Many of the important meetings in life have to be scheduled in the form of an appointment. If you needed to see your doctor, for example, you wouldn’t just wait to run into her around town. But in what sense can we say that an “appointment” is an enthusiastic idea?

To start with, I would suggest that we often improve our relationships when we make appointments with our friends and loved ones. In other words, we need to do better than simply say, “Let’s get together for lunch sometime” or “That museum would be fun to visit” or “We need to discuss our disagreement on that subject.” Procrastination plagues most of our lives, and crucial things often go undone if we don’t make positive plans to do them. In practical terms, that means making an appointment — deciding specifically when and where such things will be taken care of.

Appointments give definition to our existence. They move ideas out of the realm of wishful thinking and into the realm of practice. By saying when we will do something, we make a more definite statement than saying we ought to do it. We state a goal and not just a wish.

For an appointment to be meaningful, however, it has to be backed up by commitment. If we don’t keep appointments, we may as well not make them. But that is precisely why arrangements to do specific things at specific times are valuable. By closing off some of our options, they challenge us to higher levels of commitment (and perhaps even sacrifice). They are exercises in promise-keeping.

Making and keeping appointments may not seem like a big deal, but it has to do with dependability, which is a very big deal. If you’re the kind of person who says when you will do things and then actually shows up to do them, you have a trait that is surprisingly rare in the world. Because it is rare, you will find yourself being trusted, counted on, and probably given greater and greater responsibilities.

We are not saints, but we have kept our appointments.
How many people can boast as much?
(Samuel Beckett)

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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