Do you have the time? Can you take the time? What time is it?
Interesting questions. Time. What is it, really?
Is it a measurement, a thing, a concept, an illusion, all of these or none, or something else?
I think on this when I feel the seasons changing, when buggy summer gives way to chilly fall. I note it on the calendar. I think of where I was at 20, and 30, and 40, now 50. Where did the time go?
Sometimes I think it didn't go anywhere. It followed me like my shadow, and the more I tried to use it, the harder it became, until one day I quit wearing a watch. I still don't wear one. I look at time, but I don't carry it around.
The old Cherokee said "Do it now," right now. That's timely enough for me.
There is a tradition in many cultures that we "entertain angels unawares," that things are not fully what they appear to be. Most of us have probably had this kind of experience.
You are walking down a street, and a stranger smiles at you, as if he knows you, as if she knows your heart. You turn, and in a moment, so do they, and something of value passes between you. You softly bow your head and smile, and go on about your way.
Life passing unto life.
Is it you or the stranger who needs that connection more? Does it really matter?
Much is the same with our religious traditions. So many of them echo the same ideas. Compassion is greater than indifference. Hope is stronger than despair. Love is the tie that binds us all one to the other.
I've long enjoyed Gibran's take on this:
When He was twelve years old, one day He led a blind man across the brook to the safety of the open road. And in gratitude the blind man asked Him, “Little boy, who are you?” And He answered, “I am not a little boy. I am Jesus.” And the blind man said, “Who is your father?” And He answered, “God is my father.” And the blind man laughed and replied, “Well said, my little boy. But who is your mother?” And Jesus answered, “I am not your little boy. And my mother is the earth.”
My family has struggled these past few years, as do many families, with our own share of sickness and saying goodbye. Goodbye to friends and loved ones, goodbye to familiar ways of life, goodbye to the sounds of someone we came to know and grew to love.
Sometimes I wonder if we really know the power of goodbye, its grace, its finality. For many Native Americans, we try not to say goodbye, not in the same way. See you down the trail, until next time, keep your heart open, something like that. But this practice is not limited to any one culture, tribe, or region.
I think what we mean to say is I love you, I miss you, see you soon. What we often say is leave me alone, go away, don't bother me. Same words, different intention, all in a simple goodbye.
For the tenderhearted, it can be a lonely place. But it doesn't have to be.
Tropical Storm Ida continues to churn her way into Alabama, rainy and noisy, her gulf mist swirling around her. Even here, far from the water, I can smell the beach.
Jim Cantore and his colleagues are covering the story, though Jim doesn't have to hold on sideways to the nearest tree to get his shot. It's still a good exercise in the craft of reporting, a great opportunity for young mass communicators to follow along.
I'm surprised there aren't a bunch of them taggin' around. Maybe they are. Back at the doughnut truck, sippin' coffee and filing their homework on their Blackberries.
And there are other notes, from another Jim.
"While Jim measures the 1 ft. storm surge, have you thought about your life insurance?" I'm sure somewhere there's a gator going, "Let's see how the Braves are doin'."
So here, above the roadside orange juice line, we watch the Weather Channel, check our batteries, and go on about our business.
We love Florida, but we wish they'd send us more fruit and less bad weather.
In the time it takes to read this little entry, someone has been born, again, and another is on the way home, again, and the circle of coming and going turns like the spinning wheel, no dust on that bible.
I am Cherokee, Creek, and Lakota, through my mother's line, with the usual Southern nuances, and Sicilian through my father's line. My second dad is Appalachian Anglo-Cherokee, and both of my fathers were (are still) Marines.
The Cherokee are matriarchal, and I claim the right of self-definition, and so I have chosen the Native path, since it speaks most closely to the song of my heart.
When I go to powwows or other intertribal functions, no one asks me about blood quantum. What part of you is this or that. The heart knows the heart.
In the same way, when I order pasta with meatballs, a little salad, and some canoli, and say molto grazi(e), people smile, albeit my below-shoulder length hair.
We are all from somewhere, going somewhere. The right here and the right now are the past we can't forget and the future we can't see, so I think we should fuss less and eat more.
And get some extra sauce and hushpuppies, al dente, of course.