It's About Time or Unwrapping The Present
It’s About Time or Unwrapping The Present
By Mike Tomano
© 2022 Fossil Entertainment Group
April 5, 2022
Time, cursed prize, infinite and finite, precious and wasted. It’s all we have, and it can’t wait to move on without us. From the moment of conception, we’re on the clock. No overtime on this job, and the supervisor will punch your timecard in and out, whenever and however, she pleases. Entrance gained without invite, canceled without notice. No parley. Take it or leave it. Start the race (against the clock.)
“Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” - William Faulkner
We have the moment, that’s all. And in that moment, time can pass in serenity or transpire in such a manner to not only change a life’s course, but invalidate all that preceded it.
Moments often elapsed unnoticed, other times committed to memory. Memories, whose luster erodes in the very passage of the time they occurred in, with details clouded until they become lies...or disappear. Every life a collection of moments and memories; every individual life providing memories to others, shared experiences stretched, worn, and faded, until they are myth.
The energy of youth dismisses time. Young Life shines brightly, the ability to relish each day strengthened by the façade of being plentiful. Even when confronted with untimely deaths of peers, the odds put assurance in our favor. The probability of running out of time at an early age is less likely to occur, so the penchant exists to roll with reckless abandon.
During the whirlwind of adolescence through young adulthood, Hunter S. Thompson’s sage advice, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride” is our modus operandi. Gather experiences. Make colossal mistakes. Engage the inner narcissist. Rock on with yer bad self. Embrace the stupid. Live it up!
The Cosmic Library of The Universal Mind has a snowy VHS of your earthly dance running, and, like it or not, ‘round the age of 35, the Fast-Forward button gets pressed. Your body is the VCR and, depending on the maintenance of its inner mechanics, the chance of your tape gettin’ tangled, eaten and snapped increases with every breath. By 50, the button on the remote is stuck and this mutha is flying: years travel at full sprint; days, weeks and months vanish like calendar pages in a tornado.
Hold on tight. Fill that journal. Call that friend. Visit Aunt Bette and commit the smell of her kitchen to a prioritized mental file.
Time is a gift, like a great book or album lent to you with the provision you return it, followed by daily reminders. Enjoy the gift. Use it up. Unlike a friend’s leather-bound edition of Nabokov or a mint copy of Kind of Blue, you need not worry about preserving its pristine condition. Read the Hell out of The Book of Time. Dog-ear those pages, scribble in the margins, break the spine. Spin the shit out of Time’s Greatest Hits. Forget the “handle by the edges” bit. Get fingerprints all over it. Scratch it.
My obsession with time began when I reached 35 and realized the previous fifteen years were a blur, attributed in no small part to my own proclivity for indulgence and obsession with the future. With a newborn entering my life, I slowed down, and began cherishing every bit of laughter, every smile, every birthday. Take photos. Shoot video.
At 54, approaching twenty years with my wife and nineteen with our daughter, it’s all about the moment. I practice the Zen of our coexistence, attuned to being present, endeavoring to fill each shared moment with love. I expect nothing from time, and, in return, am cognizant of my gratitude for it. These days there are less distractions keeping me from being “in the moment.” I know this chapter of my life is no less evanescent than others, but I’ve grown accustomed to Time’s ruthless speed. Like mourning the death of a parent, one never gets over it but, rather, gets used to not getting over it.
Regret is a common ingredient in The Casserole of Existence. None of us list it on our recipe, but somehow it leaps from the spice rack into the soup. Some scoop it out, others choke on it. Big Regret leads to Big Questions: Am I the same person I was? Can I be better? Does everything happen for a reason? Will things change?
The world will continue to change, for better or worse. You or I cannot change the world, but we can help out the neighborhood. We can change ourselves, hopefully for the better. Personal change takes a lot of work and a lot of time.
Regret makes us wish for time to accelerate and gain distance, burying our failures, transgressions, or embarrassments in the fog. Regret works hand-in-hand with addiction. Addiction to vice, religion, drama, fads, news, politics, narratives, agendas, relationships; the list is endless.
I’m primarily committed to family, spending as much time with my wife and daughter as possible. Simple time. Meals, conversations, camping, hiking, shopping, going to the movies, the occasional road trip and whatever else tickles our collective fancy. Our time together is mutually enjoyed. We encourage and support each other. The wisdom I glean from my wife and daughter enlightens me and I try my best to reciprocate. Our commitment to each other is solid and based on honesty and respect.
The status quo of our modern world leaves me wanting and the need to escape into art or nature is crucial to my piece of mind. I have love and hope for mankind, but am wary of strangers and hold a predetermined aversion to any movements that occur “en masse.” Groupthink is a disease. Hyperbole and Hysteria are immediate turn-offs. Bandwagons are for the birds. I prefer to research and establish views on my own. I’ve never taken solace in being accepted, therefore have never been a joiner. I’ll take objectivity over acceptability any day.
When seeking rapport outside my family, it’s often in the company of people who strike me as rugged individuals, provide stimulating conversations, or have commonality, whether professional or personal. Time is too precious to spend it with sheep or boors.
Alone, I usually spend time with my nose in a book, listening to music or seeking solace in nature. A Saturday afternoon spent crate-diggin’ off-the-beaten-path bookstores or record shops is time well-spent. Workin’ a field of pheasants behind an excited dog brings me joy. Perched on a tree stump, meditating in the woods, with all thoughts of society drowned by the din of birdsong and buzz of insects centers my soul.
I spend a lot of time working: Broadcasting. Writing. Performing. Work is a good use of time.
It’s taken decades of adult life to carve out the agenda that suits me. My pursuit of happiness lies in my routine, established by separating the wheat from the chaff, realizing what is and isn’t possible, what is and isn’t proper, and the most rewarding ways to spend my time. I’ve learned to regulate the thoughts that occupy my mind. In most cases, the only solution is forgive, forget, move on. Anger and frustration can be used to fuel progress but left alone to wander will eat your brain and wither your heart. Regret is a great teacher if you know when to leave the lecture. Time moves forward, leaving those dwelling on the past in its dust.
At this point, I’ve been a broadcaster for more years of my life than not. I always adhered to the “something to fall back on” advice given to those pursuing a career in the arts. Luckily for me, my “day job” is hosting a radio show that affords my writing and musical pursuits. It’s a creative life I lead, resulting from hard work and an almost foolhardy determination.
“Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” equals wasted time. I am here now and diggin’ it. It is difficult to be objective about your own life. We spend time concentrating on what could be, or what we deem should be, instead of what is, robbing ourselves acknowledgment and appreciation of the now.
I derive great pleasure playing the drums. (Settin’ ‘em up, takin’ ‘em down? Not so much. The joke among musicians is that we play free and get paid to load equipment in and out of the venue.)
Drums play a major role in my life and consume an ample amount of my time. I play drums and I teach drumming. I’m a musician and a music lover. Time with sticks in my hand is always a great time.
Mickey Hart, cosmic traveler and one of The Grateful Dead’s two drummers, perfectly stated: “Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that’s what we are. There’s nothing like music to relieve the soul and uplift it.”
Drumming, the primal language. Hitting things with sticks and stomping on things with your feet is as primitive as communication gets, whether it’s the academic stylings of a Juilliard percussionist or an entire language set to drumming by the Amazonian Bora tribe.
The element of time is vital in drumming. I teach my students that our role as drummers is to punctuate and decorate the music, to propel the mood of the piece and, to keep time.
“All the chops in the world can’t mask poor time,” is what I recently told an apt pupil. A drummer having “good time” is equivalent to a surgeon having steady hands. It is a prerequisite to all other aspects of the art. Drumming allows one to control tempo, framed in time. Played death metal fast or senior-home waltz slow, 3 minutes is 3 minutes. Drumming is a wonderful way for me to spend time...and keep time...for the time being.
Ultimately, much of our time on this Earth is spent trying to find our own rhythm, locking in to our personal groove. All time is borrowed time. It is merely a loan. What we decide to do with it should be approached with the same responsibility of a money loan from a close friend. If you’re down and a friend comes through with some cash, you spend it on groceries and rent, not hookers and blow.
We owe it to Father Time, that insufferable prick, to be pragmatic and resourceful with this gift, this loan, this unfairly fleet experience.
Best of times to you and yours, and thank you for your time.
Dedicated to Taylor Hawkins
February 17, 1972 – March 25, 2022
On Time. In Time. Over Time. Out of Time.