Tag Archives: Time

Valuable Time

I don’t know how much time I have. It’s been true for a long time now. A long time getting ever longer. The more time goes by, the more the reality sinks in. I don’t know that the trajectory, the one tying my ever accumulating time to my ponderance and curiosity about it’s end, will stay. What I know is I have the second just passed. What I can assume is I have the moment before me. I can presume the days ahead and I can blindly trust the years laying out before me, stretching ever more beautifully outward into a peaceful and wonderful, assured existence seeped in love and garatitude and understanding. It’s the future I strain to make out in the hazy distance with dusk approaching and I tend to make a lot of decisions to serve that ideal state. That one that is least accountable to ever finding me. The one I wonder these days whether I’m imagining,  a mirage, acting on its promises.

  So, yeah. It’s autumn. The days are getting shorter and the night is stealing daylight hours and I’m suddenly consumed by thoughts. Rather I’m submerged in feelings. I’m a foreigner in their world. I know a few of them. Joy, sorrow, excitement and anger. Curiosity is an engagement of sorts and has an emotional intelligence to it, I suppose. Creative. That may live here as well. I don’t know. It’s beautiful. Rich with textures that can trigger anything. Scary too. I don’t speak the language and things are impossible to understand. I used to break down to depression and mute the varietals that swirl for some assurance. It was treacherous, but navigable and earlier, before I had my bearings it was the only way through. Anger worked and could kick in at any time, but now I’m a bit more comfortable with taking it in and accepting it as something I don’t understand. Sorrow and anger are still there, but less dominant. I guess that’s the mellowing I’m told comes in autumn.

There comes a time when time’s limits are undeniable. Largely, though not entirely. I will live every moment knowing and watching the limits I can predict inching closer. My limits, the limits I can see others breaching. Ones that will arrive at my doorstep, first from others and finally my own findings. Thankfully, when I turn around, as I will if I have time when the night finally falls on me, I’ll see in the eyes of those looking at me an eternity. A limitless shimmer that will go out forever, beyond the limits of imagination or folly or foolhardy selfishness. I’ll see a thousand lifetimes coming toward me stretching as far as the eye, the mind, the soul can see and in that moment I’ll perhaps feel free. 

The time that dropped from the trees to me when it bounded and flutttered in such summertime abundance that I couldn’t see any value in it is dwindling slowly and revealing its nature to me. I could look back on my earlier days and bemoan the myriad wrong ways I blew through my inheritance. I could do that. Many do. But that’s not how it hits me. It doesn’t. Sure. I wish time was so abundant now. I sometimes wish I could live long enough to bury my sons who would pass, wizened and aged and having spent a lifetimes and another’s of minutes and moments and experienced all. I wish I could do it so they wouldn’t have to say good bye to me. But it’s selfish. My moments, what time I have left is of infinite more meaning than the fortunes I’ve lost. I know now that the minutes aren’t mine. I know now that they are merely a gift. A gift I am tending, one that was given without warning and one that can disappear the same way. A gift I now treasure the way that I should. A gift that provides no longer the abundance it once did or the thoughtlessness the abundance allowed. I now know the value of my time. 

I won’t hide now. From anything. I’ll still wish. hope is times companion. But when I find myself in places I don’t understand I won’t be fooled into giving up my time. I can’t be convinced to crawl in my shell. Time has taught me through dwindling supply the humility I needed to know her value. The value of this minute. And the next and the next after that. Each minute a thing to notice. 

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Life Slips Past

How am I doing?

Oh, I guess I’m doing fine

It’s been so long now,

But it seems now, that it was only yesterday

Gee, ain’t it funny, how time slips away

~Willie Nelson


This morning I drove to work listening to NPR. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal for me at this point in life. Most mornings I don’t have the chance to do this. It happened to be morning two of the pledge drive but even that didn’t bother me. 

Recently I’d taken to fine tuning the spring loaded knobs that normally lay flush to the dash so that only the speaker in front of the drivers seat worked. This way only I’d hear the news of the day and the most recent happenings from the campaigns or the long form stories on bureaucratic minutia of New York life. If I didn’t do this and it was at a volume loud enough to hear in the back seat I’d immediately be told what to do. 

‘Play the ‘Ghost Monster’ music.’ One of the boys would say. 

That was it. I’d be driving to work listening to the same ten Halloween songs we’ve heard a thousand times. I mean, it’s May. No bother, it’s a reasonably decent compilation and every tenth song I get to hear Screamin’ Jay Hawkins put a spell on you, so, you know, no biggie. 

But today, today I heard news and it was great. It was grown up and engaging and stories were interesting and they were told by curious, intelligent adults. It was delightful. 

You should know that I was once a bit of an NPR-head. I loved NPR way before it was cool. It started with my dad listening to bluegrass on Saturdays and A Prairie Home Companion on weekend drives in the station wagon. By the time I got out of college, in my very early twenties it was pretty much what I listened to all day. When I moved to the mountains with my college girlfriend in our ill fated attempts to avoid splitting up, it stayed on whenever we were home. That was VPR then, Vermont Public Radio. Later, when I’d live for years in the Catskills it was my constant companion as I worked in the Executive Director’s cabin in a makeshift office on weekdays organizing logistics and communications to families we’d serve on weekends through the winter all to the sounds of Dr. Allen Chartok (Sp?) and the entrepreneurial and enthusiastic crew of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. I had gear. People that knew me bought me t-shirts and mugs and knew I’d love them. Thanks, Christen! I still miss both the mug and the t-shirt. 

I felt so personally connected to the people. The wonderful, smart, cultured, grown up, funny and serious people that explored ideas and were curious about things I never knew could be anything but boring. People who were fascinated by history and it’s meaning. Art and it’s feelings. Science and it’s implications. It broadened my horizon’s and became a badge I wore on my psyche. I have a vague memory of once trying to mock a cheesy, vapid, Atlantic City cover band (think of Jack Black’s original band in School of Rock when they play at the battle of bands at the end of the movie. Just unbearable. At least that’s how I remember them, but I was pretty drunk. Like come down from the mountains and go straight to A.C. with a bunch of other like minded weirdo’s for a ‘work’ conference drunk.) by standing silently in protest to their cover of ‘Living on a Prayer’ by shaming them and pointing endlessly at my cool, smart NPR t-shirt. I think I made my point.

Then a thousand other epochs of life happened and somewhere along the way I’d lost that time. Those experiences that seemed like a permanent part of life passed to the past. It was still a part of my life, but I no longer looked forward to Tuesday nights at 9:00 for the Selected Shorts rebroadcast. Long Saturday drives to the country while listening to Garrison Keillor and the Guys AllStar Shoe Band were replaced with bottles and feedings and naps and confusion. The life I had that was so much who I was was gone and in it’s place was something new to get lost in. My wife. My kids. Family. 

So today, driving in to trainings at an off site locale for a new job and a new adventure, it was delightful to have some time listening to an echo of a life that had been relegated to the dustbin of my personal history when I wasn’t looking. That I left behind happily to start a new adventure. That recycled itself into the air to be caught by another at a different stage.


The Currency of Love

Smartest In the World. And Robert.Before I became a dad I had no understanding of the elasticity of time. I considered time a constant. It marched ceaselessly, never wavering, never stopping. These are attributes of time, to be sure, but it was a reductive understanding. Since having the kids I’ve traveled in time, seen it slow to a crawl, marched through years in the span of an afternoon, even traveled to a time so far off I could never live to see it. Time is not simple. Clocks are simple. Time is incredibly flexible and capable of transporting you if you let go, surrender your control over it. It’s okay. You can almost always recapture it.

Other times you surrender parts of yourself to stay forever in a moment.

image

She really is too good to me…

Meeting my wife was one of those moments. The kids are part of that moment too. That they weren’t born yet is of little import in my new relationship to time. So many factors made this moment one capable of stretching years. Despite this the moment itself has not suffered from thinning or become weak as it stays tacked in place and stretches out to stay forever with me. Quite the contrary, actually. Parts of us will always be sitting on those bar stools, hearts jumping like live wires, trying our hardest to both conceal and reveal the excitement, not wanting to scare away the other but unable to control that which we’d harnessed within for so long.

When I became a father and when I became one again time proved as malleable as ever. If I were to leave it to the clocks and the calendars there would be some difference I’d have to assign to the experience, as if the experience were split in two and by virtue of separate arrivals I’d have to assign different values to each. But to use time that way would be unfair as the moment of becoming a father is one moment, one moment that hopped forward and backward through space and time, meeting itself with perfect symmetry.

imageIn that moment when life was shown to us, when we learned all we truly needed to know about love, we experienced one of times most beguiling characteristics. We learned that all that had passed before had been of a nature we didn’t understand. We learned that the compiled joys and pains, fits and starts that we had so bemoaned were in fact time teaching us patience, perseverance and endurance. Time always knew that we would come to understand all it had done to us and understand our lives once we could see them in the light and perspective that time was so diligently showing us. Time was a patient teacher and we very impatient students.

Since our kids have come time has managed to speed up in the macro and slow down in the micro. Each day, hour and even minute can have the potential to be excruciatingly long. Thankfully for those moments which are of endless value to the kids who will never remember them and only be able to appreciate them when they endure them from our perspective, we are able to drop them and leave them where they lie until such a time when the waves of time moving in all directions so obscure them as to make those moments disappear into the ocean. Meanwhile in the macro time seems to be packing so much of itself into each and every day that we are finding ourselves wondering how so much of it has passed. Fretting away moments here and there with sorrow that we won’t have enough time to fully experience life.

I never thought much of the time when all my moments would be up. Until I had my kids the pile seemed so large as to be inexhaustible. Then the value of each and every one of those minutes became precious. The fact was I could see in the distance that my boys piles were considerably larger than mine. At least I hope that is what I see. Now I treasure my minutes, trying my hardest, though often failing, to turn as many of my minutes remaining into moments.

Moments are the only true legacy I can leave to them, leaving time from my life and adding time to theirs, as my parents have and do for me. I don’t know that I’d value any minutes if they were endless. So the smaller the pile gets the more invested I am in making as many of them a part of my legacy for my kids as I can. Because in the end time is not only endlessly morphing, it’s also the currency of love.