Tag Archives: john mellencamp

Respecting Time

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“Time is an illusion.” – Albert Einstein

Tick, tock, the clock does its rhythmic work without fail, and without complaint, while we lament that it goes too slow or marvel that it goes too fast. But time never misses a beat. And as the 2010s approach their finish line and the 2020s prepare to take the baton, like everyone else, I stop to reflect on the mystery of it all.

A decade ago I was approaching forty, smack dab in the middle of law school, living in a university residence hall with my family in California. For obvious reasons I anticipated launching a new life as an attorney in my forties, but here I sit a decade later in Tennessee, approaching fifty as a university vice president. Life surely is unpredictable.

I dare not venture a guess at life a decade down the road. The past has at least taught me that much. Two decades ago I was a baby preacher in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Three decades ago I was a college student in Arkansas preparing to coach high school basketball. Four decades ago I was wearing a yellow ribbon to Mrs. Conley’s fourth grade class for the hostages in Iran, and fifty years ago? Well, I was born nine months later, so I’d rather not think of that too much.

Einstein said that time is an illusion. And that dude was pretty smart.

Last week we spent Christmas in Arkansas with extended family. It was a great visit. Most of our trip occurred in or driving by farmland, and it reminded me of what Stephen Covey referred to the “law of the farm”—his way of describing how certain things cannot be rushed. One might cram for a test, but you can’t cram on the farm. Planting, cultivation, and harvest must occur in order, and in due time, and the rhythm cannot be forced.

Life apparently subscribes to the law of the farm. Tick, tock, the clock does its rhythmic work without fail, and without complaint, while we lament that it goes too slow or marvel that it goes too fast. But time never misses a beat.

Be the Best You Can

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Stephanie Brown is the type of person who gives you a gift for her graduation. She did some great cyber-sleuthing and discovered a blog that I had for many years titled, “Minutes to Memories,” from one of my all-time favorite songs and gave me the beautiful artwork pictured above with the lyrics from the chorus.  This is now the first thing people see when they enter our home.

Minutes to Memories was not one of John Mellencamp’s greatest hits, so I considered it a long shot this week when I attended my first Mellencamp concert. But the universe smiled my direction, and the third song in the set was Minutes to Memories, the song that for nearly three decades has pulled me out of many a pity party.

Mellencamp is a terrific artist and storyteller, and this song in particular draws me into a world where I can imagine having a talk with my dad. Having missed that opportunity for over two decades now, I love the song even more.

Here are the lyrics. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Minutes to Memories (John Mellencamp)

On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
Looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I’m old, kind of worn out inside

I worked my whole life in the steel mills near Gary
My father before me, I helped build this land
Now I’m seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands

My family and friends are the best things I’ve known
Through the eye of the needle I’ll carry them home

Rain hit the old dog in the twilight’s last gleaming
He said, “Son it sounds like rattling old bones”
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sun up tomorrow I guess I’ll be home

Through the hills of Kentucky across the Ohio River
The old man kept talking ’bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind

This world offers riches and riches grow wings
I don’t take stock in those unsettled things

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out, and be the best you can

The old man had a vision, it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way, and I pay a high price
When I think back now on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I’m older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life, it’s what I chose to do
There’s no free rides. No one said it’d be easy
The old man told me this my son I’m telling it to you

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out, and be the best you can.