Time concepts create fascinating perspectives. I’ve been reminded of this recently when for a treat my family gave me the gift of wondering a bookstore at my leisure with a hand fat with green. This, one of my favorite pastimes often overwhelms them with tedium. However, I was given this treat and with my time I lingered the isles with no schedule demands ahead. Eventually I stumbled across a section labeled ‘New History’. Now lets be honest history isn’t new. By definition history is ‘the study of past events’, clearly not new events. History has happened and will never be new. Writing about the past, no matter how recent a past, will never be new for it has already happened. After all Geoffrey Chaucer once said, “Time and tide wait for no man”, clearly not even authors. This is the point where I pause in my bookstore journey and stretch my mind to figure out what this could possibly mean. And, to be honest I’m thinking negative, condescending thoughts on the ‘brilliant’ employee who suggested such a section when…I flash back to another moment just like this one. I pulled up short, stopping my cognitive beat-down of the term New History, remembering a store in Virginia called Antiques Made Daily.
The billboard on Rt. 211 stood out to me every time I passed it. With jest and jeer I would say, out loud unfortunately, what a joke! Thinking, this was stuff made to look like antiques maybe, reproductions likely, but not antiques and not possibly made daily. But then, like in many small towns, I spoke out once to a close friend who notes that his cousin owns the place. Oops, now I have to hear the explanation. Antiques Made Daily was a custom furniture craftsman who would scour the countryside looking for fallen down barns and buildings. He would buy up the rubble and larger timbers of Oak, Walnut etc. that had aged for hundreds of years and re-purpose them into unique beautiful furniture - all old antique wood being developed into pieces of art. Yep, I was wrong and wrong big time. Antiques were being made daily and in a way that I completely admired. My offhanded negativeness flipped into aw and respect.
Time can be explained by math but math doesn’t define time no matter our tendency to do so. We look at time in terms of measurable, finite explanations. However time is clearly more perspective than any single numerical definition. What is mid-life, clearly something on my mind. Is mid-life 40, 50…60 years old? Or is mid-life when I drove out of Michigan State University last month with my oldest son, after looking at yet another college. Or when we stopped at the coffee shop that day for company on our ride home and in looking at the map on our iPhones, sick of such small letters, finally gave in and made the screen-print setting larger. Or is mid life when we did make the print larger and my wife and I laughed out loud with joy because of the relief we found when being about to read our screens at last.
The summer feels over. I’m waist deep in class preparations, planning new student tours and cleaning the studio. Classes’ start in a week and this all comes with just a little sadness. I’m not ready for summer to be over like I’m not ready for mid-life. I’m not ready to be done. But, it’s not or not exactly. Technically the Gardens were planted in late May and our first harvest was early June. We have crops that are only now starting to come to fruition and harvest is planned deep into October. We are truly in the midlife of our Garden. And, if I dig deep enough for a parable I will note that the Garden in its juvenile weeks was simple and incomplete with very little bounty. Now at halfway we are digging into the real fruits of the work. As a matter-a-fact the full harvest from our efforts will come best in the last half of the Garden life. The work, the building, nurturing and growing have been done and only now will the garden truly be at its full potential - clearly a perspective on time. Yet it’s so hard not to feel, “How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon, December is here before its June, My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss.