The Widdershins

Archive for August 31st, 2012

This week I got scooped like the daily special at Baskin Robbins.  For a couple of weeks I’d been working on a post about the vast philosophical conservative pendulum swing in the Republican party over the last thirty years.  Low and behold last Tuesday, Bloomberg scooped me with an article much better than anything I could ever hope to offer.  Here is the link — I highly recommend it.

With nothing more than an off-kilter hamster wheel embedded in my brain pan — I put it into a wobbly spin trying to come up with a new subject.  There was the idea of having the Apostle Paul meet all the politicians named “Paul” along the lines of the Incident at Antioch — then there was the idea of a Mitt Quixote fighting a Solyndra windmill until he was schooled by Barack Panza, but beyond a few cheap punch lines (which is more than I usually have) I had nothing.  So I decided I had just enough time to write about “time.”

Time is essentially a yardstick for us simple-minded humans so we may measure things and know when Breaking Bad is on.  Fortunately, someone decided a day was the rotation of the Earth instead of how long it takes to cook a three-minute egg.  We decided a year was the orbit around the sun instead of the duration of a dental visit.  To a watchmaker, time is measured in the size of tiny cogs — to a physicist, it’s a formulaic component — to an economist, an equation factor.  Time is precious, fleeting, plodding, often agonizing — an amorphous concept for something having no mass or substance, but is the fourth dimension of our known universe.

Personally, I believe time should also be one measurement of political policy.  What does that mean?  Pretty simple — how will a policy maximize or diminish the time for those affected.

It goes something like this — will the policy put people back to work quicker because each day without a job is lost potential never to be regained.  Will the policy lessen the time a child is hungry?  Will the policy lessen the suffering of those who are in need of medical care?  Will the policy enhance the comfort of the elderly?  Will the policy enhance the years of peace or lessen the years of war?  Will the policy provide the time to gain education or training?

During the last four years I’ve had lots of time to think about the concept of time.  Four years ago I was a high-flying business executive with an embarrassing salary spending almost as much time in the air as on the ground.  When you come to know the work schedules of flight attendants and airport bartenders all over the world you are either flying too much or drinking too much — probably both in my case.

That all changed due to a father with Alzheimer’s and a mother in failing health.  I was told my father was a statistically insignificant case — someone with Alzheimer’s who was both physically aggressive and strong as an ox — someone for whom no facility was designed and no personnel trained, thus his statistical insignificance.  After my father’s passing, my mother’s health went from one health crisis to another with her greatest fear being a long-term care  facility.  So in order to give my parents more quality of time, my life changed — changed so dramatically it resembled nothing it had in the past.

With that change came the time to learn patience, perseverance, gag reflex control, medicine, how to go days without sleep, patience, strength, tenderness, introspection, self-refection, patience, drug interactions, snappy dressing for an eighty-something, how to endure Dancing with the Stars, how to laugh through tears, and oh yeah, did I mention patience?  There wasn’t a day in four years I didn’t think about the gift I was being given — the gift of time — never to be replicated, never to be relived, but ever to be cherished.

Take it from me — time’s greatest utility is a way to measure those things that count in life.  In Rent, the cast suggests measuring time in daylight, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter, strife, journeys, truth, or in love.  What I say is this — measure it in any way you think makes sense, whether it be grand or small, but most of all make sure your time and the time of others counts.

So when you hear the politicians’ mewling rhetoric about policy, consider how that policy enlarges or diminishes time for those affected or afflicted — lost time is lost life.

This is an “all skate” open thread.

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