Time: That Relentless B@#%H
Over the past month or so, I have become acutely aware of two things. First, time is a relentless, non-caring force that will stop for nothing. Second, I realize that there are still some very small thinking people out there.
TIME: THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING
My wife and I just came back from visiting her family in Texas. While there, I really noticed how much older her family has gotten. It is not like I have never noticed age, but there was something different this time. Her mom seemed to be moving a lot slower, she seemed a bit distant which is unusual for her and yes, she slept a lot. Again, it is not like I have never noticed her age, but this time there was something palpable in the air. Even her house seemed really old. My brother-in-law lives with my wife’s mom and even he was wearing the noticeable stamp of older age.
As I sat and watched everything around me, I would inevitably pick up the phone and call my dad. Not too long ago, I would call my dad and we often talked for over an hour. Keep in mind, I call my dad every day and sometimes two or three times. But over the past six months, I have noticed our conversations are getting shorter and shorter. His attention span has quickly diminished and unfortunately our discussions do not last more than a minute or two. The shortness of our conversations has certainly been evident but while sitting in Texas it became more worthy of introspection.
My dad has always had a fondness of the poem
THE RUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM.
There is a certain passage that reads:
“The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
What the poem is saying to us is that we should strive to “get it right” the first time. In our lives, we all come to crossroads of decisions and we have to choose one of several paths. Once that choice is made, time, the old relentless one, dictates that there is no going back. There are no redo’s and no “taking it back.” Once the moving finger writes, having written, no amount of tears can undo that choice. That is not to say that we cannot recover, make good our bad decisions, or get our lives back on the right track, but it does say we have to live with the consequences of our decisions.
As I think about my family approaching the next level of our lives, I think about my brother who just told me he has the beginnings of arthritis in his neck from a lifetime of golf and racquetball coupled with football while we were growing up. My dad sits in a wheelchair with no legs because he ignored wounds that sprung from injuries he sustained in service to this country in Korea. My sister has her set of issues and with my wife’s family as well. Although both relatively healthy, my wife and I continually fight our own age related battles joyful in the knowledge that God, in His Word, continues to help us as we stand in our faith. Yes, time is relentless and she continues to march on. I think Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 is the perfect treatise on the concept of time. When we are young and supposedly invincible, rarely do most of us think of such things. Trust me, if someone today told me to take my airplane, line up behind a B-52 and take-off ten seconds behind it, I would have second thoughts about it. As a young Lieutenant however, it was cool to do such a stupid thing.
All I am saying is look at the words in the RUBÁIYÁT and think about the author’s words. Look at the passage in Ecclesiastes and consider, as did Omar Khayyam, about doing it right the first time and when you do approach the end of the trail, you are not one of the many who are swimming upstream in a river of tears of regret and sorrow.
TIME: HELLO PEOPLE, IT IS 2014
People who know me, know that I am NOT the guy who looks at everything through RACE-COLORED glasses. I don’t. Never have and never will. But sheesh, people; c’mon. Within the last six weeks, I have been privy to such acts of racial stupidity (from both sides) that I just have to relate some of them here.
1. My wife and I went to the last showing of Mary Poppins at the Shakespeare Festival. We were sitting in our seats when an older white lady, and I am assuming her daughter, sat down next to me. From the beginning, it was obvious that she didn’t want to sit next to me. Sitting, she had her back turned toward me and if I looked over at her, she would quickly look away as her daughter wore an expression of embarrassment. Right before the curtain went up, there were several open seats remaining and the lady and her daughter got up and moved to them. Come on, really?
2. Flying the B-717, I get the opportunity to fly into a lot of smaller regional airports. Well, the other day I flew into one (I won’t mention which one) and when I pulled up to the gate, the jet way driver was a black guy about 35 years old. I had seen him there the previous time I flew in there and when I went up to the gate area to pick up my flight plan, he and two black females were behind the counter. I took the paperwork and looked over my flight plan when I became aware of three sets of eyes staring at me. I looked up and asked them, “What?” Without skipping a beat, the guy says, and I quote, “We were just trying to figure out what you are.” Wha-What?! I said that I was a “black guy from New Jersey” (It is the blue-green eyes that throws folks off all the time) but then he answered, and again I quote, “Yeah, but you talk like a white boy.” Immediately I looked out the window and saw my jet sitting on the ramp and at least I knew I had not been unceremoniously transported back to 1942. What do you say to that? Come on, really?
3. Last week, my pretty blonde first officer and I flew four days together. Yes, we got many a strange look going through the airport and strolling up to the gate to go fly. She even noticed and mentioned it to me a couple of times. “Did you see how those people were looking at us?” “Yeah.” She got a kick out of it. On our way to the hotel one night, our black van driver started talking about Ferguson, Missouri and how the place was “going to explode” and how “we “ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Then he ranted on about Ray Rice, Mike Tyson and Lord knows what else. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Okay conspiracy brother, lighten up. You are creeping us out back here.” My copilot had this odd look on her face and I just motioned for her to ignore the tirade. Hey, we are in his van and he can kill us at any time. Let’s live to fly another day. His anger and clear hatred was quite disturbing. Come on, really?
4. The other day I entered a hotel restaurant in Louisville wearing my uniform since I was getting ready to go fly. When I approached the hostess stand, the hostess, an older black lady, kinda looked me up and down. I said good morning and asked her how she was doing. She simply said, “Table for one?” I acknowledged, she led me to the table, put a menu down and simply said my server would be right with me as she walked away. Now when other people approached the hostess stand, I of course mean white people, she greeted them from 50 feet away. “Good morning. How are y’all doing today?” Very odd to say the least. To me it seemed as though she was acting out a 1930s or 1940s movie when the black people looked at other blacks as somehow acting “above our station.” Think of how Tilly the maid acted toward Sidney Portier in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Now I have had evil looks from black folks before since my wife is Hispanic, but this was a new entry into my world of Robservations. Come on, really?
5. Lastly, the same morning as this breakfast ordeal, I was riding in the back of the jet going to Atlanta, in uniform, sitting next to an older white couple. Same thing as number, 1 above. You can just tell when someone is uncomfortable. Oh well. During the flight, the husband took out some photocopied articles and the wife, sitting between us, asked her husband to see one in particular. She took it and held it in such a way that I almost had to look at it. On the first page was a drawing of a dead black man sprawled on the ground with the words above him that said, “One Less Vote.” It was an article about blacks being denied and I suppose eventually getting the right to vote. For whatever reason, she really wanted me to see what she was reading. Oh, brother. Come on, really?
All of these things have happened in just the past six weeks and I will be honest when I say I have gone years without any foolishness like this taking place. (Except the evil looks my wife and I get - - that is a daily occurrence when we go out in public). The whole point is the year is 2014 and way too many of us are still hung up on racial issues that should not matter. I remember being on Kevin Elkins’ radio show one day promoting my first book about German fighter pilot Hans-Joachim Marseille. Within 15 minutes, the discussion turned to civil rights and MLK walking across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. During the break, I asked Elkman how in the heck his audience can twist a discussion from a German WWII fighter pilot to MLK. He just shook his head. I guess I realize some people simply live for this kind of stuff. Not me, life is too short to get hung up on this garbage. But I guess it is what it is. Just thought I would share some recent experiences with you guys. Cheers.