There’s only so much time.
That’s what your grandparents and your parents told you, and, after all this time, you still believe them, mostly because they aren’t around to remind you.
On the other hand, there’s all the time in the world: time to get up, go to work, read something, listen to something, listen to someone, count change, drink coffee, fix something, throw away something, find something, lose something, think in generalities, struggle to think of specifics, consider an outstanding example of WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING NOW, and shake your head about all the things we seem to be doing instead.
Why are you doing this? There’s only so much time.
And so you do the math: whether you have enough time to hike from Georgia to Maine, whether you have enough time to pedal from Minnesota to New Orleans, whether you want to use a significant portion of the time you have left to read, really read, all the books you think you want to read.
And it occurs to you, even as you do the math, that you’re not especially good at math. And so, once again, you enter the cul-de-sac of cognition that is wondering why you’re not good at math.
You’ve circled these mailboxes before: is it because you aren’t good at it or because you don’t try to get better at it? Is it because math is too overwhelming, or because it’s that time thing again: you’ve gotten this far along without math and so you’d rather not waste any time trying to get better at something that can’t even help you calculate how much time you have left?
By the way, you’re figuring 20 years, give or take. That’s how long your dad had to go when he was your age in 1988, and you’re just enough the product of a paternalistic culture to think that matters.
Your mother, the nurse, the one who drove by herself across northern Missouri in the middle of winter (when winter meant snow, lots of snow, blowing snow in northern Missouri) because she didn’t think her mother had much time left—your mother might disagree, might suggest you hadn’t thought the problem through, that there are things we can’t know, that you might live to be 100 or, because she knew of other examples, that you might not live another day.
There’s only ever been so much time.
And so you exit the cul-de-sac you visit way too often and pedal up the Rock Island Greenway bridge over Knoxville Avenue and look to the south and the cars and trucks and pavement and the busyness of it all and think to yourself, well, at least you’re not wasting your time doing that, not right now at least.
Because there’s only so much time.
April 29, 1 mile.