This year, I lost several people who were close to me. One was my mother. Two others were friends who had a deep, if occasionally somewhat complicated, impact on my life.
Yesterday I spent some time with another friend who also had connections to all of these people. We talked about them. I was lying on the floor during a protracted lull in the conversation, when I think both of us were just getting sort of deep in our heads. “These days I really want to believe in an afterlife,” I said.
I’m at the point in my life where the concept of mortality is not quite so fuzzy as it used to be, though I have always had a sense of time being our one most important possession. I think that sense has really informed my political beliefs. I believe it is an outrage that we are forced to sell our one most important possession, at great discount, in order to survive.
I realized it in high school. Very little education was happening; classwork was mostly training us to be desperate to please a system and a superior. I saw that then, but I had very little power to do anything about it. I figured I had to at least make it out of that period of my life in order to arrive at a point where I could make my own decisions. A few years later, when I was finishing up my fifth year of college after nearly dropping out, I wrote in my journal, “I do not like being in a situation where I wish that long periods of time would pass quickly.”
Eventually I did hit my stride. I came of age at a time when jobs where relatively easy to come by, and I found some solid work that did not dominate my life. Since then, with much struggle, my priority has always been to ensure that making a living is just one of the many things I do.
I know how incredibly privileged that sounds. And also how privileged it is. I also know that, in this country, it makes me sound lazy.
When we were going through my father’s possessions after he passed away in 1998, I found a copy of The Art of Dramatic Writing. I never knew he owned such a book. Inside was a note from a friend: “Thanks Bob! I am getting this back to you so you can write that Great American Novel.”
Dad talked about that novel for a few years after he retired. Then he died.
This time is mine. It is the only thing that truly is. I will use it wisely.