F&F Tour Day 2: Time is of the Essence
My decision to leave a day early turned out to be prescient. Rain began falling early this morning in Maggie Valley and would have made for a saturated and unpleasant ride if I had waited until today to begin the F&F tour. Fortunately for me, today I woke to a dry, cool, overcast day in central Kentucky, and as I headed north, the fitful skies gradually cleared and I finished today’s 500+ mile ride to Wisconsin in the upper 70s.
I opted for a less-than-direct route to Lake Geneva to avoid the butt-cheek clenching ordeal of nervously navigating unnerving Chicago traffic. I’ve ridden through the “City of the Big Shoulders” enough times on a motorcycle to know I would much prefer adding 80 miles to my trip to avoid the fierce gauntlet of distracted, rude, and just plain batshit crazy land pilots who menace innocent strangers who dare to drive in their midst. So today I bypassed the Windy City, steering my steel steed to Interstates well to the south and west.
That routing decision meant I had time to put my feet up, lock the cruise control slightly above the recommended speed suggestion, and contemplate any multitude of things. But today all thoughts seemed to come back to the issue of “time.” Not, “What time is it?” or “How much more time do I have to spend dodging potholes on the Interstate?” but more of the “Where the hell did time go?” variety. As in “I’m almost 70. Time to assess what I did during all that time.”
I concluded that maybe I wasted a lot of time. In 70 years I should have accomplished something. Not the “find a cure for cancer” kind of thing or “write the great American novel” kind of thing. But at least had some kind of impact. So I began to assess what I’ve done with my time.
I went to grade school and high school for 12 years but don’t remember learning much. Except that I can read, write and cipher some, so I must have learned something. Then some military service to make the world safe for democracy or some such nonsense which obviously didn’t work because democracy is no safer now than it was in the 1960s. Then college, a little work, more higher education and a couple of diplomas useful for covering the random nail holes that dot my walls.
Teaching. Well, maybe some students got something out of my classes. Not just names and dates and other imminently forgettable history stuff but, hopefully, some of those young scholars began to ask important questions of themselves that led to insightful answers that end up making the world a better place. I think most teachers hope for that.
Other odds and end jobs just seemed to take up space in my life. Writing sports for a small town newspaper. Working on the decennial national head counting project known as the Census. Serving as an anonymous civil servant in jobs that could have been done better by any number of people but probably didn’t need to be done at all.
But ultimately I remembered the purpose of this trip. Seeing “Friends and Family.” The memories that whizzed by in a blur as I sped down the concrete slab reflect the “times” that matter most. Friends from childhood and friends from more recent days. Family beginning with my parents (gone) and brothers (scattered and aging) and growing to include a 50-year marriage, two beautiful, amazing daughters, six promising granddaughters and one geographically distant great grandson.
Time passes slowly as one grinds through childhood and emerges gently scarred and barely scathed into adulthood. But at the upper end of adulthood, time moves much too quickly; I want to grab hold of it and slow it down. Of course, I can’t. So I’m going to use some of the present time to refresh old memories and some of it to create new ones that I’ll be able to look back on and use to answer the same question I had today when, 20 years from now, I wonder where the hell time went.