“Better late than never.”

This English proverb correctly describes Laura’s outlook on life. “I think ‘better late than never’ every time I go to class late…which is always.” She learned it from her mom at a young age. This proverb “means it is better to show up even if you’re late than to not show up at all.”

This proverb is embedded in American culture. In America, things oftentimes run late. Everyone is rushing to get somewhere, and usually people are late and things start late. To excuse this, people just tend to say “better late than never.” This proverb is a kind of rationalization; it is a way to make people feel better for being late.

I agree with Laura about the proverb’s meaning and I do think it is better to show up late than to not show up at all. This proverb kind of goes with the proverb “c’est la vie,” or “such is life.” It is a way of saying that we should all relax and not panic all the time about keeping up with schedules and strict time schedules. Similar to “such is life,” this proverb is telling us all to keep in mind the bigger picture. Being five minutes late to something is not that big of a deal. It is kind of like saying things could be worse.

I was not at all surprised when Laura tells me this is a proverb she lives by. She is always late to class, lunch, meetings, pretty much any time commitment. She lives a pretty relaxed life and does not get upset over small things. I respect that she does not get sucked into an overly rushed life.

However, other cultures might think this proverb is stupid. In some societies, it is of vital importance that one is on time at all times; there is no leeway. They would say a proverb like “better late than never” should not even exist because there should never even be a possibility one is late. This proverb helps us see distinctions between cultures, their values, and their outlooks on life.

Annotation: Titelman, Gregory. Random House Dictionary of America’s Popular Proverbs & Sayings. New York: Random House, 2000.