I was reminded today that it has been over 7 months since I have posted anything here on Senseless Ramblings.
I have had breaks in my writing before. Sometimes it’s due to the infamous “writers block.” That has not been the case over the past several months. I have probably suffered from the exact opposite. I have felt overwhelmed with things to write about. To the point of creative paralysis. I haven’t been able to write because the thoughts in my head won’t stay still long enough for me to focus.
I’ve wanted to revisit the topic of heroes, who they are and what they mean. There has been no lack of material on the embarrassment of the current U.S. president, the ignorant voters and a broken system that put him in office, or his ongoing, immature Twitter battles with anyone and everyone that he feels doesn’t see eye-to-eye with him. How about the beauty of nature? Camping? Children? Work? Pets? Craft beer? Hockey? The topics are endless, the words are there, it’s the mental glue to link them together that I am missing.
Today however, I had an unexpected and focused inspiration. It was heartfelt and a little melancholy all at the same the time and it made me realize that I wanted to write about time.
What was this inspiration? It was a young father, walking down the street, hand-in-hand with his two daughters who were perhaps two and four years old. I was seated at the desk in my study, where I am right now as I write this. My study is on the second floor of my house and it looks out over my neighborhood and the street below. I was reading the morning news and checking email and caught just a momentary glimpse of them as they rounded the corner.
My heart clutched a little. I can remember similar days, how wonderful they were, and how long ago they seem. In my case it was my three kids. When we moved into this neighborhood, my son was eight, and the girls were five and three. Today my son is 25, and the “girls” are 22 and 20. It is just my wife and I at home now. My son is in Los Angeles, and my girls live an hour away near their university.
I wanted to yell out to that father, “hold those hands tight. Remember the beautiful weather and the little dresses that your girls are wearing. Burn the memories from today and all others days into your mind. They will buoy your heart forever as time marches on. As good as that sounds, it isn’t really possible on a larger scale. The memory will sustain the vision that time will rob the specifics of.
Time is relentless. It is consistent. Think about it. It is truly the most consistent thing in the world. It moves forward, never backward, and it moves at an unfaltering pace. 60 seconds makes a minute; 60 minutes makes an hour; 24 hours makes a day; and, 365 days makes a year. It can not be altered by the weather, or by any means that we undertake, or through the birth and passing of us as human beings. Even in the arctic and antarctic regions where there can be almost six months of perpetual darkness, time doesn’t alter its course just because it feels like one long night.
Time allows us to create goals to reach for. It gives us the memories to look back on. Every second of every day is an opportunity to start again. It truly is. The past is the past: it is said and done and nothing can change the actions that were undertaken. But the future is open to what we want to make of it. If I feel joy, I can choose to hold that feeling as long as possible. If I feel anger, it is my choice to push it away to make the next bit of passing time better or to hold it and let it spoil that time.
Look into the sky as a jet passes overhead. The small silver object that is the plane is the now; the moment. The sky in front of the plane, where the plane is headed but has not yet gone, is the future. The contrails left behind the plane are the memory that the plane has passed, and like memories, we will remember to some degree what the contrails will look like, but they will also fade and soften as time goes on.
When I think about that father today, I realize that today is just one walk of hundreds that he will have with his children. He will undoubtedly forget the specifics of today, but the collective of all those walks will remain with him. I have memories of the hundreds of walks I have taken with my children. They also are a collective. Do I recall one specific daily walk if that walk was no more or less eventful than another? No. Will my kids remember a specific walk: probably. I remember clearly moments from my childhood that I am certain are long forgotten by my parents but as a child we focus on our parents collectively and in our own context. As a parent I was focusing at any given time on three. My parents were focusing on nine.
In his song, The Leader of the Band Dan Fogelberg mentions his father teaching and disciplining with what he called a “thundering velvet hand.” Time is that hand. It will often knock us down, cause us stress, face us with uncertainty, leave us with humiliation, but it also caresses us, holds us gently, keeps our hearts safe, and fills us up. All at a steady, relentless pace.
Enjoy your time. It is yours. Fill it with goals for the future and memories of the past. Push love out into it, and let love wrap around it.
To my parents, siblings, wife, children, all extended family, and my friends across the years and miles: Thank you for filling the time that is my memory with joy and happiness, and helping to soften the blows of life; and, for a future that will be rich, and happy, and joyful.