Time. You either have too much of it or too little. You can’t speed it up. You can’t slow it down.
Our perception of time is age-related. In youth, we have too much: time drags. We don’t hold the reins. We ride in a wooden wagon pulled by plodding, sway-back horses. In our middle years, time picks up the pace. So many tasks. So many obligations before nightfall. With one eye on the clock, we pant as if we were running alongside a train. In our elder years, it feels as though someone has hit the ‘fast forward’ button. Looking down the track, we see the station in the distance. Ready or not, we are about to ‘arrive.’
Prompted by a New York Times piece on Garrison Keillor’s retirement from “Prairie Home Companion,” and concurrently reading Mitch Albom’s book The Time Keeper, I’ve been thinking a lot about TIME. (And while I’m thinking about TIME, I might as well paste in Chuck Pyle’s “Keepin’ Time by the River.” Chuck died this past November, but he was a treasured familiar.)
Cara Buckley’s piece, “The Garrison Keillor You Never Knew” ran June 16. Conducting the interview at Keillor’s home, Buckley wrote of Garrison’s “looming melancholy presence” and mentioned that he “doesn’t make much eye contact.” As a decade’s old fan (our long relationship allows me the familiarity to call him by his first name) I will miss Prairie Home. The show was a constant in an inconstant world. Whatever was going on in my life, Garrison was just a radio dial away. His honeyed voice was always ready to sweeten my temperament.
Writing of Garrison’s retirement, Buckley mentioned Garrison’s age but also wrote that “Prairie Home captured a time before tweets and Facebook when people talked more over fence posts and pots of coffee.” In the last ten years, the number of listeners has declined one million. It is time for Garrison to hang-it-up.
Time has picked up the pace. But it is up to us: we can be victimized or not. I write from Setauket, an old shipbuilding village on Long Island’s North Shore. Walking my daughter’s dog Lola (whatever Lola wants, Lola gets) I note the heritage houses – so many with beautiful porches that harken back to a slower time. But many of the porches are devoid of furniture. No one has time/makes time to sit on these porches; rather, many porches are strictly for curb-appeal. True, I’m retired, and I have more time, but how I lament my working days when I didn’t take time for my friends or myself.
Garrison and I are the same age. We grew up together, and we share common ground. Living as I do in rural Colorado, a good day is a day that I can walk down the middle of Second Street and have two conversations without stopping traffic. A good day is a day where friends and neighbors can drop by hoping that I have leftover coffee or an open bottle of wine. That is the pace of retirement in Westcliffe. Needless to say, whether I’m listening to Garrison in person or over the radio, his front-porch pace is perfect.
Read the New York Time’s piece and listen to the clips. Listening is a trip down memory lane and will leave in a state of longing. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/arts/the-garrison-keillor-you-never-knew.html?_r=0
As for Mitch Albom (you know him, the Tuesdays with Morrie author) he has written a short fable about Father Time and a dying man who is considering Cryonics as a way of extending time and a depressed, teenage girl who wants to end time by committing suicide. It’s a quick read, but it dovetails nicely with the article on Garrison.
What exactly do we do with time? Do we realize that time is finite? Do we waste it or savor it? I love old cemeteries and the centuries-old headstones that not only count the years but also the days.
If we went back numbering the days on contemporary headstones, might we spend more time living in the moment?