Monday, June 3, 2013

Timing is Everything

Doc Holliday:  What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp:   Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back.  Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live Wyatt. Live for me.   Wyatt, if you were ever my friend -  if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me,
leave now. Leave now... Please.

Timing is everything they say.

In ballistics certainly so. In the outcome of a day even more so.  I missed out on a flight  in a smallish plane some years ago, because I was suddenly sick to my stomach. All aboard died.  My stomach bug was not the flu but a yet known and unplanned pregnancy.

How many of us, unknowingly, missed a vehicular accident, a violent crime or a whack from mother nature, simply because we forgot our phone and ran back into the house, decided to linger over that nice little .380 in the case, or simply had too much, or too little caffeine.

Timing can be good.  It can also be lousy. Missed trains, missed job opportunities.  Missed dreams.  I've heard from more than one guy friend that he was bummed the "girl of his dreams" had found someone. Yet, he never asked her out, couldn't express the feelings until it was too late, sometimes remaining silent for months or even years, growing only older of bone and pride.


When we were kids, we ran around with time simply carried in our pocket, as dense and round as a coin, many coins, that jingle as we ran. We are told by some grownups that we soon will have to grow up and leave childish dreams behind, but we don't listen, because we have nothing in our experience to gauge their caution by, to give the portent of a structured future any range and meaning.  Besides we are too busy, just doing things that kids do, even if that was just sitting and waiting for hours for a fish to bite a tiny hook.

Then, seemingly overnight, we fell into that grown up, carefully measured and timed world, picking up our watch in the process. The dreams of childhood passed behind as we jumped on board a fast moving train, losing our innocence before we even fully realized we possessed it.
As adults we are governed by time, watches, and cell phones and alarm clocks and schedules.  Mechanical clocks and biological ones. We rush headlong into actions without considerations, as if the sheer and simple arranged succession of days was not fast enough, constituted without capacity enough, so that weeks and months and years of living had to be condensed down into one moment, and it is today, now.  We as a society, and as individuals, do not seem to be able to closely watch and wait for that which is worth waiting for.  We feverishly work for things we do not need and we vote without thought for those that promise us prosperity without effort.

Everything is based on now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. What do you mean you haven't got a date, got a spouse, a house, a baby, and we need to talk to you about those 25 pounds.  Everything is on a time schedule and it's not necessarily ours. Meals are microwaved, we speed date, express wash, Kwik-e-Mart, and you know what? We find that in rushing towards what we're supposed to want, we missed the things that can truly change our lives.

Reset your clock.

Just once, turn off your computer turn off your cell phone, turn off Twitter, and Facebook and clear your calender for a few hours.

Pick up that old firearm that may have been your Dad's, or your Grandfathers and head out into the country.  If you don't hunt, then pick up a camera, a drawing pad and a pencil.  But take some tool that will open up the wilderness to you and go.
Go out into that rapid and fading back country that is retreating as the tide is, walk out into that land that was ours, is ours, field and forest, bayou and orchard, grain and dust, harbor and thicket. Go on out and decide what is important and what is not, among all the flotsam and jetsam in your life, where it is going and how much control you're going to give to others over it.

Go out into that land that still carries the tracks of those that crossed this nation to build, to grow; men, and women and children, bringing with them their tools and trades, goods and gear, by steamer, by wagon wheel by train, by big slow rivers that sometimes revealed no current and sometimes ran backwards, running not to hide, but to dream, all the way to the ocean. It was a land on which a man ate only by the sweat of his brow, the ability to plow a straight furrow or chop down a limb without removing one of his own.  It was a land of milk and honey, steelhead and gold, which offered itself up on rare occasion from the earth as compensation for torn lives and broken bones, payment which neither man nor his government proffered for the weak or the foolish.

Find a spot out in this expanse of history and sit and take it in.

There is so much that might have been, could have been, wrong place, wrong time, so boundless in capacity is man's imagination to burn and scatter away the refuse of probability, leaving only yearning and dreams. No time or space or distance can keep you from that what matters, even if to the world, your dreams of your life is and what kind of world you wish to live in, are little more than transparent scratchings on depthless glass.
I'll sit by my brothers bedside as the chemicals go into his body that may or may not kill the cancer that's consuming him with fire that bears no warmth. There is the steady whoosh from machinery in the room, the movement of unsleeping blood, the intake of air. The room is simple, but its corners and edges hold the quiet, complex lives of two very secret people, who long ago escaped from a place that held only pain, there in that season between thunder and any thought of rain, finding their own shelter, with a new family.  Now, we have no season, the hospital room alternating day and night in a vacuum in which light is only a hope.

As you sit out there in that countryside, think of these words. Stop and look and breathe. Pick up a discarded piece of wood. Think of what you have, what means the world to you, and what and who you will fight for, as an individual, as part of a family and as a citizen.
Then carve your name on that little piece of wood, carve the name of the one you fight for, or simply carve "Freedom", the letters bearing one clear unfettered voice that sounds out, through the delicate attenuation of your actions, through the ringing bells of your worth, through the tone that is the weight of silent guns - I WAS here, I AM here, there IS still time.

Then go back home to your home and your memories.  A heart shaped locket with a young woman and a man in an airman's uniform, months before war separated them for years. A shirt that could fit a thousand others but which only one wore so long that you will forever know its wearer by the simple feel of the fabric underneath your fingertips, the echo of sandalwood that clings to blue cotton. Go back to your present. A photo on the wall of those who still live to tell you their stories, to hold firm your past, memories that are borne on the air that you still breathe, invisible, yet essential as air itself. Go back to your future. A flag on a wall, one for which your loved ones gave up much of their life for, or even, life itself.

Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time.
 - Brigid


  1. the rushing of this time, this time, here and now, will seem appropriate upon reflection, when i will take the time, and make it my own.
    i like your words, thanks :)

  2. This post touches me. In ministry, we've heard so many expressing regret for this or that. So many of those words being with, "If only I'd ..."

    "Now" is all we have, and none of are guaranteed the next breath. Carpe diem, seize the day, no time like the present ... they all reinforce what you've written.

    Life is too short to let regrets build up; build memories instead.

  3. Beautiful and poignant. Each day is a gift, and we are promised no more.

  4. Exceptional post! Time is one of the things that seems rigid yet flexible, can be both our friend and enemy at the same time, and yet it's all a matter of our perspective of it at the moment. Thanks!

  5. Everything you write and post here lights a fire that bears the heat of passion. Best wishes for a happy outcome for your bro.

  6. It is so easy to fall into the trap of the mundane existence. Point "A" to point "B", following the clock as you say.

    Excellent post and one that rings home. (Well except for that Pact timer, mine was toast from the get go).

  7. Well said! And oh so true... As a side note, we watched a guy set up a brand new Chrono at the range, then promptly shoot it with the first round down range...

  8. Your writing is flawless and beautiful.

  9. And some of us do not wake up until it is to late

  10. I relate to all you have said, in so many ways. And you said it so perfectly, too.

    Still sending good health vibes to your brother, and strength vibes to all in your family.

  11. Not quite sure what to say, Brigid. As Rev Paul said, your post touches me, deeply. It also carries a sense of foreboding that disturbs me--as if I am reading something in between your lines, not mine. I hope and pray I am mistaken, and that all is going well for your brother and his treatment plan.

    I know I have squandered so much time of mine--time I could have spent with loved ones, or out doing something I truly enjoy.

    Thank you for reminding me that time is precious, and to spend it well.


  12. Great advice...naturally.

    One thing that causes me great sadness is that due to my family, I will never t to shoot a dad or granddad(or mom's) gun. I will not inherit a piece that belonged to someone else, handed down.

    I don't know why...

    However, my kids and grand kids will not have that problem. I actually dream of the day when my granddaughter says, "This was my grandma's and she wasn't to bad of a shot."

    Time is a great gift to give someone.

  13. Timing, or Divinity-induced serendipity?
    What Rev. Paul said...


  14. Sorry about the long posts ....

  15. Brigid,beautifully written as always.Timing IS everything.I'm glad I learned that long ago.I've had a great life,been in every state (except Hawaii),been to foreign countries,hunted and camped in tents,cabins,under the stars,under snow,worked hard and had fun,and had the best friends I can imagine.Now I can't get around so good,I'm broke and broken,but I don't have regrets-no coulda/shoulda's.So many people don't live for the moment,I love the quote from 'Tombstone'-that's what it's all about.Billf

  16. I will stop back in a bit, just on a dinner break. Will be back later.

    RonF - I love your stories, blogger, just doesn't :-) Drop me your email in a DO NOT POST and I'll send you mine so you can keep us up to date (and any sales at T'lerss on the polish baked things, heads up always good :-)

  17. > the "girl of his dreams" had found someone

    One of the landmarks on the road to adulthood is realizing that the girl of your dreams exists only there.. Sometimes the one worshipped from afar would not bear close inspection. Or she might not like being asked to be that elaborate and wonderful construct of your imagination rather than who she is. They write country-western songs about this stuff.

    The great thing about real women is that when you find the right one, your differences are not a problem -- in fact, maturely handled, they can make you stronger together than separately.

    Of course, by that time you're probably done mooning over The Road Not Taken -- and for those still in the throes of it, knowing this won't ease the pain a bit...

  18. "Then go back home to your home and your memories. ... Go back to your present. ... Go back to your future. ... Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time."

    I got a phone call from my brother a couple of weeks ago. Uncle Ralph died at age 92. A farmer in southeastern Massachusetts all his life, on his tractor until he was 90. He was my mother's oldest brother and the last man of my parents' generation.

    I moved away from Massachusetts in 1975 and with the exception of a trip about 25 years ago where I saw a very few people, I haven't seen anyone in the family but Uncle Ralph and his wife since then. All the rest of my life, with the exception of my two brothers, their wives (a oft-changing cast of characters for one of them) and the two kids I've been surrounded by my wife's family, not mine. Nice people, I love them and I have a lot of fun with them, but they're not MY family. I didn't grow up with them.

    I dithered for a couple of days. We had not been on the best of terms with my Mom's family (long story ...). They were all very close because they all lived on or worked on the Farm, whereas I hadn't hardly at all. I was not sure of my welcome at all. And there was the Troop's annual planning meeting and a concert I was supposed to sing two solos in plus some choral works. The various obligations I have because I'm in this and a part of that. But my daughter lives near Boston, she could use some employment help. My final thought was "When will I ever see all these people again in one spot?" So I called up my cousin. "Got a spot to put me up?" No, he's got a houseful. Which does figure, mind you. I decided to go anyway and made all the reservations.

    Met up with my daughter and stayed with her overnight, and then she and I went to the wake. I was a bit nervous waiting in the long line, but I figured "By God this is my family and I belong here as much as anyone". But as I came near the head, my oldest first cousin saw me. "Ronnie!" There's about 6 people living who can call me that. He broke away from the person he was talking to and reached back in the line to grab my hand. It was like a floodgate. "What - Ronnie's here?"

    All hugs and smiles from both my cousins and the girls that they married that I knew before they were married, when they dated my older brothers. Who are grandparents now. And then I met the kids. And then I met the grandkids, Ralph's great-grandkids, all 26 of them. And some family friends that remembered the Christmas parties my Mom and Dad had. And some who I only knew as 4-year olds and a bunch who had been born after I left. I was surrounded for 3 hours in the midst of an ever-changing group of family. "Where are your brothers?" Well, you'll have to ask them. At the funeral, when we lined up the cars they broke the line and moved me up when they saw I was at the end. "You're immediate family, you belong up here!"

    It may never happen again. But thank God I decided to go. Re-read the first paragraph. It's the truth.

  19. ktfm99 - and I do indeed like yours. thank you.

    Rev. Paul - I've choices I've made about people I'd wish I had not, but I have no regrets for the trying. Trust takes a while to learn

    Jennifer - I say a thank you to God every morning, with a special thank you for coffee.

    MoBro - Rigid and Flexible. Indeed.

    Matthew - again, thank you for your wisdom, and support.

    Keads - that is part of why I changed careers, I was getting stale, wanted something new (Ok 6 years of grad school and $140,000 in student loan debt later). No regrets.

    Old NFO - I'll be honest, I just about winged this one. :-)

    Linda - the time it takes to leave a comment can make one's day. Your's just made mine.

    Old olkie - and watch out for that snooze button!

    A girl - I understand. Dad gave away his little rifle that was 90 y ears old to a stranger, as he said "well I didn't think anyone would want it". sigh. But I have him, that's enough.

    Bllf - I have little of personal wealth to show for my travail, given much of it away to help others, family, education, travel. All things I would never take back.

    Ad Absurdum - actually have that book on the shelf here, never actually read it. Too busy clearing new roads.

    Just got home a bit ago, exercised the pooch, time for a little drop of Jameson and a hot bath. Tomorrow will be a long one.

  20. Timing is indeed everything. For the most part, I have used my days well, with a couple of notable exceptions. However, we don't always know what the wise course should be. Sometimes I have chosen the "sensible course" when something inside me said, "Do something else !" Of course, my impulses were the most correct.
    I try to listen to these impulses now, perhaps because God or someone else wiser than I am found a way to whisper to me.
    Many wishes for a better course for your brother than has been prognosticated ! Love to you both,

  21. I had the stunning and terrible realization last weekend, as we spent a too-brief visit with my parents for Memorial Day, that someday—far sooner than I want it to come—I will not get text messages from my dad anymore, ones that only make sense to the two of us. The ones where he tells me the names of contenders for office, and who won, not because I have a care for the politics of the situation, but because the names are comical and fun to say. I won't get an email asking me what the "most fun" city name currently in the news is.

    I wondered who I would share this love of funny words and names and license plates and establishments with in the future. The prospect of losing that makes me SO very sad.

    I hate to grieve ahead of time, but I know the day is fewer days that I have behind me. For now, I'll enjoy what I have.

    And pray that Dad lives a long, long time.


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..