Tag Archives: time

Home Run

25010686_659397667781726_6878480645274730496_nWe crossed the Mississippi River bridge in Memphis in the rental car, ironically a Malibu, and remembered what the Arkansas Delta looks like in early winter. Many of the trees had long ago shed their leaves leaving cold bare branches that reach toward the sky, and those still holding leaves that had only recently been brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges had faded to the color of rust and stood clustered together for warmth next to the brown dirt of the silent farmland. The winter sun was setting, and it looked as if someone had plastic-wrapped the entire pastel sky. It isn’t your typical picture of natural beauty, but I now find it strangely wonderful.

It was good to spend time in my hometown. Seeing family and old friends was special as expected, but there was something special about just being there, too. I don’t miss temperatures in the upper twenties even a little bit, but it was even refreshing to remember what home felt like on my skin once upon a time. I went for a seven-mile run one morning that gave me a good long time to remember.

My wife and I went for a drive one afternoon to remember more. We drove by her first workplace and the places we lived together and even Joel and Alicia’s apartment where we spent many an evening in the early days of our relationship sitting on the couch and talking and falling in love.

And then we drove to the grave sites of my sweet parents. I used to make a point to do this alone on each visit home to talk to them; first, my dad, who died so long ago, and then more recently to both of them, sort of like I would go to their bedroom seeking comfort following a childhood nightmare in the middle of the night—comforting even when I couldn’t see their faces. But this time I went with my beautiful wife. We walked across the crunchy leaves under a cold sun and stood there as a couple — as my parents were a couple once upon a memory. There was nothing really to do other than stare at the flowers and the name plates and silently wonder where the years go and what to think about it. It was good to stand there together, like my parents who also made the choice in life to stand together. And who now Rest In Peace together.

I developed a strong sense that someone has pressed pretty hard on life’s accelerator and that the years are really starting to fly by now. It may sound a little spooky to say such a thing, but strangely enough I find it to be a most peaceful feeling. Life is quite the ride, and fear now seems like such a waste of precious time.

I think my parents are telling me this as I still stand by their bedside in the darkness.


Sisters and Brother

Sisters and Brother

“I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends.” — James Boswell

I grew up in a house with two older sisters.  Well, that’s partly true.  Given our age differences, I guess I grew up about halfway in a house with two older sisters.  They flew the coop before I hit the grand old age of eleven.

Both were so good to me.  I remember sitting on Sandy’s lap and reading my first little book, which totally freaked her out because no one had taught me to read.  (“Mom!!!  Al read a book!!!”). I remember riding in Jacki’s yellow Volkswagen Beetle  and getting to shift gears on our way to the nursing home to visit Miss Martha and Miss Jessie.  The words “sibling rivalry” meant and mean nothing to me from personal experience.  All I have ever known are sisters who love me.  As Boswell jealously observed, I was born to friends.

Sandy and most of her family came to visit this week, and it has been great fun to have them here.  It almost surprised me to notice how much I looked forward to their visit.  It is always great to have people we love come visit, but there must be something extra special about those words brother and sister, at least in our case.

Our parents have been gone for years now, leaving the three of us at the top of separate family trees with both sisters now at the grandmother stage.  It is hard to pinpoint exactly what happened with time, but I think a quote attributed to Clara Ortega says it best: “To the outside world, we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.”  

That’s it: We live outside the touch of time.  We don’t spend much time together anymore, and as special as it is when we do, time does nothing to or for the relationship.  Our relationship is inviolate.

It’s About Time


If you ever feel like time keeps slipping away from you, avoid Saturday night when Daylight Savings Time snags a full hour without so much as a please or thank you. The big jerk.

I know, I know, it donated a free hour half a year ago, which I celebrated at the time, so this is just time to settle up. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. I try to make good use of all the hours I get in this blessed life, but it is kind of hard to keep up when they just disappear without a trace.

So here is my plan: I’m going to take it back. Ha! Try to mess with me, Mr. Time; you don’t know who you’re messing with. I’ll play along, change my clocks, actually show up to work on time, like everything is cool, but when no one is looking I’m going to take an hour all Harry Potter like, just out of thin air, and do something awesome with it and rub it in Time’s face. The big jerk.

I haven’t decided exactly what I will do with this reclaimed hour, but I have a few ideas. Like a mountain hike. Or people watch. Or count stars. Or play goofy games with children. Or savor an ice cream sundae. Or, just sit and feel the ocean breeze. Whatever it is, it won’t make sense or be productive or check anything off a list. It will be something excellent, and it will drive Time crazy since it seems hell bent on stealing precious hours from me. The big jerk.

If time slips away from me, I think I’ll just take it right back.

Resolute (Or, 17 for ’17)


I resolve to do the right thing even if it appears illogical.

I resolve to laugh more often and at inappropriate times.

I resolve to spend more time with people and less with screens and devices.

I resolve to see otherwise invisible people.

I resolve to spend more time with my eyes closed listening to good music.

I resolve not to listen to music when I’m driving.

I resolve to go for long runs in new places.

I resolve to spend more time outdoors in familiar places.

I resolve to try something new.

I resolve to treasure something old.

I resolve to feed my mind, body, and spirit healthy things.

I resolve not to give anyone or anything the power to choose my attitude.

I resolve to replace a noisy, busy life with a simple, smooth rhythm.

I resolve to read books and learn stuff.

I resolve to use my talents to make the world a better place.

I resolve to love my wife and daughters more than ever.

I resolve to live resolutely.


An article in the online edition of the Harvard Business Review caught my attention: “A Modest Proposal: Eliminate Email: Reasonable Attempts to Tame It Are Doomed to Fail.”  Ironically, or maybe appropriately, the article arrived via email.

The author (Cal Newport, Georgetown professor) is apparently serious, and as one of the “inbox-enslaved individuals” he describes, I appreciate his attempt at a Technological Emancipation Proclamation.  He accurately portrays my people’s need “to constantly check their inbox and feel great guilt or unease about the possibility of unanswered communication awaiting attention” and that “the inbox-bound lifestyle created by an unstructured workflow is exhausting and anxiety-provoking.”

So, he suggests chunking it.  He writes, “The concept is simple. Employees no longer have personalized email addresses.”

I think he is crazy.  Which is partly why I love it.  But more importantly, and I’m speaking as one highly skilled in email management, I think the day is coming when the email problem has to be addressed.  As Professor Newport concludes, “if workplace trends continue as they are, [his crazy/stupid/fruitcake idea] might one day soon seem less less like an interesting thought experiment and more like a necessary call to action.”

Email allows us to be so stinking available, efficient, and responsive that we no longer have time to work (in fact, that becomes our work)–or, tragically, to live.  In his delirious alternate universe, Professor Newport envisions: “[W]hen you’re home in the evening or on vacation, the fact that there is no inbox slowly filling up with urgent obligations allows a degree of rest and recharge that’s all but lost from the lives of most knowledge workers today.”

Can you imagine such a thing?  I can imagine.  In fact, I can almost even remember.


So we wait four whole years to get an entire extra day again and it turns out to be a Monday. Darn the luck. Rumor has it that Leap Day will be on a Saturday in 2020—as it should be—but this go around . . . Monday.

So what will you do with this rare gift of an entire day? My guess is go to work, so on, so forth. Just another Monday.

But, what if. What if you really did have a free day, twenty-four hours with no responsibilities, what would you do? And while we’re in make-believe world, what if it didn’t have a name like Monday (work) or Saturday (take the kids to soccer) or Sunday (go to church)? What if we made up a cool name like Freeday so that there was no lurking guilt as to what you should be doing that day instead? How would you spend Freeday?

And what’s stopping you?

My good friend, Wikipedia, told me that Leap Day occurs in most years divisible by four but not years divisible by 100 unless divisible by 400. I’m not making this up. Some cat named Pope Gregory XIII did make this up 400+ years ago, so I’m asking, why can’t you make up some math and declare a day all for you?

I say pick a day and go for it. Time is a precious gift, and observation tells me that it eventually runs out on all of us, so why not resist the forces working against you and seize a (Free)day.

The Judeo-Christian heritage calls such craziness “Sabbath” with a recommended dosage of once a week. But once every four years is better than never.

Hot Topic Fireworks and the Fourth of July

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” – Mark Twain

That Mark Twain is such a goof.

I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to spend time with a leadership coach over the past few months thanks to a fellowship through Pepperdine University, but our time together is coming to an end. During our penultimate phone conversation, my coach asked if there was anything else that I would like to discuss, and I had to confess that I am now the best leader in world history and have nothing left to learn.

Why the sudden laughter?

You can picture it, I’m sure: a long, deep, fascinating conversation with a wise friend. You are tired and sleepy and have to get up early the next morning, when suddenly an entirely new and wonderful conversation topic emerges and… Well, you just have to call it a night. As much as you would like to go down that conversation road, you simply don’t have the time or energy to invest and have to cut it off before it gets started. Reluctantly.

That is what I offered my coach. Sure, there is much to discuss, but we have neither the time nor the energy to invest and we must simply call it a night. Reluctantly.

This is how I feel in general this Fourth of July. We celebrate the United States of America this holiday weekend, and I am simply unable to imagine opening the door on any of the spectacularly important and touchy conversations that stand before us. Not because I do not care. Not because I do not have thoughts. Not even because I am exhausted by the very prospect, although I am.

Here is why: It takes so much time to love and listen and build the relationship with a single person to simply begin to understand the other well enough to just get started on any of the topics. It is three in the morning, and we have talked all night, and I have to be up at six, and I just have to exercise a teeny bit of self-control.

(This isn’t very inspirational, is it?)

Okay, let me at it this way: Be kind to everyone. Invest in deep relationships with a few. Listen a lot. Speak slowly and carefully with patience and grace. And get some rest because this is going to take some serious time.

And have a great holiday weekend.