I spilled a secret of epic proportions in last week’s Signal Fire, that Time Travel was real, that it exists now, and that you can enjoy it now, if you can afford the insane price hikes that the airline industry has been plagued by over the last few years. I spoke about how travel makes us children in the world again, and in turn, you beautiful souls responded, some in comments, some in personal emails about the subject. You spoke of the desire not only TO travel, the places you’ve always wanted to go, you told me about the things holding you back from the going, but also of the other things, closer to home, you’ve always wished you would have done, and all of this got me thinking, about you, yes, but about those I know in my own life that have always had a hankering to disappear into some great adventure, but just haven’t done so yet. Made me sad, this, and as I’ve gotten older and older, I’ve seen just how much we don’t always have the time we think we have left, to do all the things we want to do, and how we should stop waiting for some tragedy, some catastrophe, to finally take the leaps we were born for taking.
You’ve heard the stories, I’ve told a few here, about the people who plan some grand adventure for some day in some future, “when I retire” say they, “when the kids are off on their own,” say others. “We’ll go when we’re a little more financially secure,” some say and believe with all their hearts. “Next year, I promise, next year,” repeated annually until the first year to make such declarations are a decade in the past. You’ve heard the people with dreams of doing certain jobs, taking up certain hobbies, making certain phone calls, risking the failure to achieve something more. Then comes the standstill, and I offer no judgement on the why of why we end up standing still, but we do, and so often, so terrifyingly often, it takes a tragedy, an aforementioned catastrophe, or a brush with the end of ourselves, to snap into bright focus what truly matters. The question remains, why DO we wait for tragedy, for atrocity, for near-death experiences, to do what we want to do, see what we want to see, and say what we should have already said?
What is it in us, innate in our humanity, that is so adept at convincing the voice inside that it’s wrong, that it should shush itself into silence, and that somehow we, the second voice screaming louder than the whisper internal, actually know better? How can we watch others endure their own brushes with mortality, only to emerge transformed on the other side with a vigor renewed and surging, and then think the same lessons do not apply to us, too?
It must be a trait unique to human beings, one not shared by others in the animal kingdom, for I know so few species that are so slow to learn from their mistakes, and from the mistakes of others. We watch suffering, understand the ramifications of an action, or in this case an inaction, and we feel empathy for those afflicted. We sit, don't we, and listen to the stories they tell, to their pleading that we don't follow in those unfortunate footsteps, we nod our head solemnly and promise we will not. “Not me,” say we, we’ll grab the bull by the horns we reassure them, we’ll live our life while we’ve got life to live! Then again comes the standstill, then comes the great holding pattern on the runway of our own lives. Only when something comes crashing down in front of us, only when our own plane is on fire, do we move, do we take flight, hoping the rainfall will extinguish that burning.
As the poem above mentions, Typewriter Series #288 written so many years ago, we sit on the shorelines of our lives and watch as moments drip through our hands like grains of sand. We tell ourselves we’ve an entire beach to spare, no need to fret now, not yet. Forgetful lot, we humans, and one day we look down and realize that while we were waiting, the ocean came, as it always will, and stole so much of our beach from beneath us. How precious that handful becomes, when it’s the last of it all. That sand is our time, and our time is always running out, some falling from our fingertips, some siphoned back to the sea by waves that lull us with their song.
I am not an alarmist, not by any stretch, but after the months we’ve just come through, hell, after the years of pandemic and loss on such a monumental scale, how have we not all learned the lesson that life has always been trying to teach us. That time is what matters, it’s the only currency of value on this entire screwed up planet. We work ourselves to the (osteoporosis weakened) bone far beyond any reasonable point, we sit in desks at jobs we hate, we make empty promises that we’ll do the things, go to the places, see the people, and instead stay. So often, we stay.
I asked in the poem, and I ask again now: What are YOU waiting for? An accident? A giant push from a giant force? I ask you, and I hope you’ll answer, I hope we can start a giant dialogue where we support one another, what is it you’re waiting to do, to see, to say, and what are you waiting For? What’s holding you back? Why not yet? And most importantly, how can we help?
Then, when the dust settles and we’ve listened to one another, just tell me you’ll not wait. Tell me, you will live now. Right this very now.
Tell me so.
Tell me you’ll not wait,
not put it off for later.
Tell me you’ll live now.