Life of late has gotten me thinking a great deal about Time and the proposition that Time is all about perspective. How did we get here? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Good questions all and all, have to do with Time. But be not daunted good reader. The good news is whether it’s you, me or Aristotle, it has always been thus.
This week, intent on scratching one of my longtime itches, we resurrected our research into our respective genealogies on Ancestry.com. When I stop and think about it, my decision to act and scratch isn’t all that surprising. While I have some faint recollections of my grandparents or their brothers and sisters referencing one relative or another from long, long ago, my folks never really talked much about their childhoods. What I am surprised by is already having worked one thread of paternal genome back to 1785 with no end in sight. Turns out there is so much accessible data out there if you just know the right questions to ask – Ding! But that’s a whole other topic for a different blog on a different day.
Turns out I’m finding relatives on both sides of the civil war; enlisted relatives who fought in the War of 1812 and relatives who didn’t seem all that concerned with divorcing one wife in the old world before marrying another one in the new one. Huzzah!! I knew there had to be dirt in my ancestral past! But putting false shock aside and if the truth be told, I’m simply enjoying the process of peeling back the record on who some of these ancestors were, what they did and where they lived (and died). I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall the day one of my precedents (John P.) and his wife decided to pick up and go to Cristobal (i.e. Panama Canal). What was going on that day in early 1907 that made them decide to be part of building ‘the ditch’? The instant they were both aboard ship, their lives were changed forever.
Remember all the hubbub about the Maya calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012? The day after, plenty of folks (secretly glad to be alive) were now talking about all the reasons why they knew all along the ancient calculations were wrong.
If I may, I would propose a much simpler scenario:
Travel back with me to 3114 BC where we join Mayan astronomers Ah Kinchil, Chac and math whiz Alaghom-Naom already in progress. The three had finished yet another day of mind-numbing calculations and they were tired. “My brain hurts” said Chac. The other two nodded their heads in silent agreement. As our intrepid three calendar geeks looked around at their work strewn all over the ancient conference room, they began to question if maybe, just maybe, they had gone far enough. With the calendar now stretching so far into the future, they wondered who was going to be alive to see (or care) when it stopped. I mean really, December, November – did it really matter?
Besides, Chac had kids with a soccer game later that night and Ah Kinchil had car pool. “Let’s go home.” and they closed the door at December 21st, 2012. It only took seconds, but the rest as they say, is history.
If the history of the earth was measured on a 24-Hour clock, Man came on the scene at approximately 23:58:43. Looking at this from the other end, that means the entire history of Man has been about 1-minute 17-seconds long [see 1].
If we presume Humankind had begun emigrating out of Africa some 70,000 years ago, then one-second equals about 909 years. Looking at the birth-date on my birth certificate, my time here on Earth has been only an instant.
Or my personal favorite…the five-year old vocal prodigy who responds to the interviewer that they’ve been singing since the age of two…”almost my whole life!”. The crowd goes nuts. They love it, they think it’s cute. Why? Because we all have something our pint-sized Pavarotti doesn’t. Perspective.
As I indicated at the outset, ‘how’ I’ve been spending my time lately has actually been the subject of a lot of my thought time over the past several weeks. The intense and unending nature of my job had been taking a piece out of me each day; each night, six-days a week and week after week. I can empathize with that social philosopher, Johnny Five when he speaks to ‘dis-assemble’.
In an instant, I realized that one by one, things or activities I had passion for were being side-lined in the name of ‘the job’. But so what? After all, I was being responsible, right? It’s what we grown-ups are all about. Right?
For having covered as many miles across as many years as I have, I’m still startled at how easily the grind can sneak up on me. Now I realize I felt like I was being eaten alive from the inside and hadn’t even noticed. I had allowed myself to be lulled into a state of self-induced hypnosis where I truly felt like I had no choice but to suck it up, slog it out…earn my check and go home to sleep. I have so much respect for folks who have ground out their lives in coal mines or cotton fields. I was getting buried in a mine that wasn’t mine. Something had to give.
What gave took an instant. I hadn’t missed a day of work at my assignment in the past 6-months…not even late. I had absorbed all kinds of ‘adjustments’ decreed by upper management. I’d seen my job description growing by the week and yet, my check wasn’t moving in kind. And then one night, I saw a similarly minded hard-worker denigrated in front of all his co-workers with a vicious callousness that actually startled me like a slap across the face. That sudden, that senseless act — and for nothing more than the self-centered needs of a junior supervisor’s delicate ego — got my attention. And then, in the background, I heard a co-worker (who did not know my whole story) reference the obvious emotional toll the public flogging had taken on their fellow co-worker as being ‘so gay’. Words matter.
Sad to witness yet another evidence of the baser side of the human condition being hijacked by fear, I was struck by a sense of the impunity that so often rises out of a misplaced sense of absolute power. In that nanosecond, I knew all my effort to build the company was misguided; that no genuine appreciation for my efforts existed beyond being there to punch the clock. Time to go and I knew it in an instant. Carpe Diem.
Over the next several weeks, newly convicted to moving on to something else, I made the phone calls, visited my contacts and dropped the Emails to my other agencies…”My assignment is ending. I’m back in the ‘Available’ Column…just thought you should know…”
Like a well-written novel, once I knew what I believed and was doing the work of changing to match that belief, Life responded in kind and found a way. I got a phone call on Wednesday of this week and in the span of about 4-minutes, had a new assignment that starts this coming week. If a second of Earth Time is 909 years, then 243 seconds on my cell phone’s chronograph is what? Let’s go to the chalk board:
As you can see, I’m stunned at how quickly I came to know what I needed to do. But I’m wondering if that isn’t really the way of it: Perspective.
I don’t regret all that I’ve learned on-the-job over the past 6-months. My skills are even deeper than they were before. Crucibles are funny that way. What I’m grateful for is realizing (anew) that all any of us has is ‘right now’. What each of us decides to do in this second matters. None of us are relegated to being share croppers for the rest of our lives…unless that’s what we want. Free moral agency matters. The possibilities are ridiculously exponential when I start to realize how many other things of value only take a second or two. “I love you”, “Thank you” or “You’re welcome”. “You matter to me” or “I see you”. Seconds do count and Time does fly. Are you ready? It’s all around you. Think about it the next time you saddle up and ride the second-hand. Scary? You bet. Worth it. I guarantee it. Hang on to your reigns. Be a Time Traveler this week. I’ll see you on the other side.
‘Star Wars’ make-up artist Stuart Freeborn has died at the age of 98 in London, England, the city of his birth. During his six-decade career, he was celebrated for creating characters such as Yoda, the 7ft tall wookie Chewbacca and the slug-like Jabba the Hutt. He also worked on classic films such as Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, where he created the apelike human ancestors in the ‘Dawn of Man’ sequence.
Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II
December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013
Byrd was an American jazz and rhythm and blues trumpeter. A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist. Performing with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school and playing in a military band during a term in the United States Air Force, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music from Wayne State University and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. While still at the Manhattan School, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, as replacement for Clifford Brown. In 1955, he recorded with Jackie McLean and Mal Waldron.
After leaving the Jazz Messengers in 1956, he performed with many leading jazz musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, and later Herbie Hancock. Byrd’s first regular group was a quintet that he co-led from 1958-61 with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, an ensemble whose hard-driving performances are captured “live” on At the Half Note Cafe. In June 1964, Byrd jammed with multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy in Paris just two weeks before Dolphy’s death from insulin shock.
Click the Pic and let’s enjoy “Flight Time” from Mr. Byrd.
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Dezeen_Watch-sculptures-Moments-in-Time-by-Dominic-Wilcox_by 3: Source for ‘by 3’ compilation by dan4kent: Sweep Second Hand: http://www.dezeen.com/2011/09/15/watch-sculptures-moments-in-time-by-dominic-wilcox/; Panama Canal – Side Elevation: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Panama-canal-shepherd-elevation.png; Mayan Calendar: http://www.mayacalendar.com/introduccion.html; Mayan Calendar Cartoon: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/11/maybe-the-mayans-were-right-about-2012.php; Maya Names: http://babynames.merschat.com/index.cgi?function=Search&origin=Mayan; Riding The Yoyo – Italian-American Festival in Canton OH (AP)}: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2166890/US-Weather-Storms-leave-7-dead-triple-digit-heat-wave-sweeps-America-ahead-July-4th-weekend.html#axzz2KETbwFha; Rolex Close-up: http://tuttacronaca.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/rubato-rolex-roma/ cross view; Riding the Second Black Board Illustration by dan4kent; Dezeen_Watch-sculptures-Moments-in-Time-by-Dominic-Wilcox_20: http://www.dezeen.com/2011/09/15/watch-sculptures-moments-in-time-by-dominic-wilcox/; SplitTime_WallClockWhite_RedSecondHand: http://www.madeindesign.co.uk/prod-split-time-wall-clock-authentics-ref1025298.html; Closing Inset – Sweeping Seconds: Dezeen_Watch-sculptures-Moments-in-Time-by-Dominic-Wilcox_20 Inset: http://www.dezeen.com/2011/09/15/watch-sculptures-moments-in-time-by-dominic-wilcox/; History of Earth in 24-hour clock: http://www.geology.wisc.edu/homepages/g100s2/public_html/history_of_life.htm
[Note 1]: Here’s a fun perspective: It’s believed that humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic period in southern Africa. By 70,000 years ago, humans migrated out of Africa and began colonizing the entire planet. They spread to Eurasia and Oceania 40,000 years ago, and reached the Americas by 14,500 years ago. One of the oldest sites of human settlement is located at Middle Awash in Ethiopia, where humans lived 160,000 years ago. Now that you know that, say hi to Alex Trebek the next time you see him (ha!).
“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.” – E.E. Cummings.
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