Time Balm

Time. What is it?

Einstein didn’t really know, at least not for a long, well, time. Even then, he struggled with it greatly and questioned his own conclusions about it in the end.

You’re reading this, so you hardly have any, at least not the kind that will put a smile on your face in your coffin.

I just had a birthday and allowed myself to unplug, to stop blogging, tweeting, texting. I stood in the sun-drenched yard for a long time with my dog, winding down to child time, flower time, dog time. I still figured I needed some kind of clock to beat against, so I imagined the earth turning on its axis moment by moment for a whole day. I’d feel the earth turn then. I’d watch the lilacs grow.

Truth is it’s hard to be happy when you’re in a hurry. Sure you have some rushes, even giddy expectations of a project coming to fruition. But what about the message on the billboard: “Take time to be a dad today”? A dad for your daughter, your grandson, your dog; a husband for your wife.

There’s no denying the sacrifices demanded of success. Surely, since you’re reading this, you know them well.

It’s a complicated issue for us. For the artist, for one, keeping all pistons firing in the social-media engine can rob you of something else. On my recent song release project, I was so ensconced in pr upkeep that I hadn’t written a song or a poem in many weeks, nary a verse.

It made me sad and made me stop it all for a time and start writing again and sitting for awhile on the porch with my dog, watching the short-lived lilacs lifting on the thermals.

Just on the other side of our lilacs lies a neighbor’s house. A month back an ambulance came and took my friend David for his last roll down the driveway. Same age, David. He won’t have the luxury of bouncing along on his red lawn tractor anymore. I will. And I won’t forget that I have such privledges.

Happened to notice a number of articles recently that speak to various sides of the time question. One is New York Times’ John Tierney, writing on the science of concentration. Then, there’s The Times’ Judith Warner on adjusting expectations with age.

Also heard a think piece by Jeff Greenfield on the Mother’s Day edition of CBS Sunday Morning. His subject, which is unfortunately not captured online in video or text, was “Blackberry Mania.” He cited the Laputa society of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” so consumed with their own deep thoughts they required floggers to keep them from crashing into themselves. All this led into a b-roll shot of pedestrians on cell phones and iPods.

With that image in mind, I’ll lead in to the ultimately closing act of all time, Bob Dylan. His current Rolling Stone interview is not available in its entirety online, so I’ll cite his golden quote here:

It’s peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cell phones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games. It robs them of their self-identity. It’s a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that’s got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.

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