“There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late.”

Og Mandino

Let’s imagine a race against time, a game with sand grains slipping through an hourglass. Imagine you’re running. Heart pounding, sweat dripping. You’re late. But you’re still in the game.

The finish line is not a fixed point. It’s a liminal space, stretching and contracting. Yes, you’re late. But “late” is a pulsing heartbeat. It’s the click-clack of a moving train, it’s the last tick of a countdown timer. “Late” is urgency. It’s a call to action. It’s the burning fire lighting up your willpower. “Late” says, “Move faster, you’re still in the race!”

“Too late”, however, is a closed door. It’s the eerie silence after the race is over, the echo of missed opportunities. It’s the stale, cold air of a room once alive with possibility. “Too late” is the echo of a story that’s already been told, a song that’s already been sung.

Yet, in life’s grand play, even when it feels like the curtain is about to drop, there are no rules that forbid a grand re-entry. The game is not over until you decide it’s over. Being late is not the end, it’s merely a checkpoint that screams “Do more, try harder!”

If life is a puzzle, late is the moment you find the final piece after an exhaustive search. It is finding the right fit, just as the sun is about to set. But being too late is looking at a finished puzzle, one where the sun has already dipped below the horizon.

And so, in our pursuit of goodness, of change, of making a difference, being late isn’t a curse—it’s a nudge. It tells you: you’re moving, but you could be moving faster. It’s the last mile in a marathon that transforms a runner into a champion. Being too late, however, is hanging up your shoes. It’s the silence after the storm.

The difference between late and too late is immeasurable. One is a battle cry—the other, a surrender. One ignites the will—the other extinguishes it. But remember, the clock ticks not to announce your defeat but to urge you to try harder.

So, take another step. Try again. Keep pushing. Being late is proof that you’re still in the game, that your story is still being written. And even when it seems too late, there might just be a plot twist waiting around the corner. After all, isn’t that what makes the game thrilling?

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.