It’s before six o’clock in the morning and I am driving down the highway towards the big city and another day of work at the university . . . it feels like I have been doing this routine for forever. In my mind I am thinking that this is like the zillionth day in a row that I have either been at work at the university or the church . . . like I haven’t seen a day off for forever. It has been a long week as I have worked at fifty percent of my job at the university doing all the things associated with professional development for educators that takes a full-time job; and, another fifty percent doing hearing rescreening for students in rural schools spread out all over the kingdom come of the vast state of Montana . . . nearly six hundred miles in two days in locations like Lavina, Rye Grass, Grass Range, Roy, and Winnett . . . some of the booming metropolises of this great state looking into waxy ears and asking the age old audiological question: “Can you hear me now?” Or is it a cell phone commercial? Whatever . . . it has been a long week . . . an even longer six weeks. I need a “time out”.
At least that is what was going through my mind as driving through the darkness and listening to John Prine sing about Jesus and his missing years . . . a “time out” period in the life of Jesus that happened between the ages of twelve and thirty. I was also thinking about the fact that in those six weeks we as a family we have endured . . . one stolen car, one run in with a deer that crunched another car, a truck that needed major (and, expense) repairs, the wife going off for nearly ten days on a religious adventure, the stolen car being found, and the wife going off for another week to see and celebrate her mother’s 86th birthday in Kentucky . . . just a few of the adventures that marked the past month and a half. It has been stated that “bad stuff” happens in threes . . . well, I guess the darn thing got stuck and kept turning over and over as we easily passed the three level early in this time period. That is a myth . . . for us Keeners, when it rains it pours. I need a “time out”.
That’s what I thought as I neared the big city on the way to work this morning . . . I could use a “time out”.
I wanted to stop the truck, jump out, and throw my hands together in the ultimate sign of a “t” notating “time out”. Of course in the downtown part of the big city that might be construed as a little on the strange side at that time of the morning . . . like maybe I had had a little too much to drink the night before . . . or that my medication had worn off . . . or that I had lost my marbles . . . anything but normal. I imagine that if I had done that I would have scored a “time out”, but I really do not think that I would have enjoyed the dinner jacket with the extra-long sleeves or the padded room it would have gotten me. So, despite my strong urge to do exactly that, I remained in my truck.
I am not quite sure why none of us is given a certain number of “time outs” that we can use over a lifetime when things feel as if they are getting out of hand. In sports, teams are given a certain number of “time outs” that can be used for a variety of reasons . . . one of the biggest being when things seem to be getting out of hand and the team needs a “time out” to re-think, regroup, and calm down. Sports are just a microcosm of life being played out on the field or court. Each team is given a certain number . . . so, why not life? Why can’t any of us have the ability to call a “time out” whenever life seems to be getting out of hand . . . when we are tired . . . when we need to regroup and reorganize . . . when we are frustrated . . . when we just need to catch our breath? I could use one right about now in my life . . . a “time out”?
I imagine that there are those of you out there thinking to yourselves, “Boy, this guy sure whines a lot!” That you are wondering what in the world this guy is complaining about . . . adults get “time outs” all of the time. Adults get day off from work. Adult get vacations. Adults get holidays. Aren’t those “time outs”? Yes, they are . . . when you get them. Remember, I said it has been over six weeks since I have not worked every single day either in my university or church job. As much as I love them . . . I need a break!
Usually with my “time off” I do a couple of things . . . I go critter creeping . . . I take lots of pictures . . . and, I write. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or this blog knows that there have been few pictures and even fewer posts on the blog. I haven’t had time . . . or, when I did have the time, the old easy chair or bed was calling my name . . . I was tired! A “tired” John is not a pleasant person to be around . . . I get grumpy . . . easily frustrated which leads to more grumpiness . . . and, it has made the wife—more than once—threaten me with a whole different sort of “time out” that I hadn’t experienced since I was in grade school. The scary thing about it is that I actually considered it.
Yeah, I know . . . why not just bite the bullet, take the “time out” and damn the consequences? Well, I like being able to make payments on the house’s mortgage. I enjoy being able to pay the other bills. I appreciate my benefits at the university. I like both of my jobs as there are good people at both. I enjoy the church and the adventures it offers. Both put money in the bank. I like to eat. I like being able to have Internet so I can blog and post pictures. Without my jobs . . . well, without my jobs, I couldn’t do a whole bunch whether I had the time or not. So, I bite the bullet and keep on chugging away.
In my chugging away I dream . . . I dream on while driving in the darkness of an early morning in Montana . . . I dream of “time outs”. I dream of jumping up in the middle of a meeting at the university, yelling, “Time out!” Who cares if my fellow co-workers think I have lost a few marbles . . . it would just affirm what they are already thinking. I dream of hopping out of my car at the stoplight, doing a quit run around the truck, while yelling, “Time out! Time out!” I realize that the other commuters will think that I work for the Post Office. I dream . . .
Winter has been knocking on the door of autumn lately and we haven’t even “officially” enter into the season of fall. There are not a whole bunch of days left to pause and enjoy the beauty of this transition of seasons . . . the leaves are turning, snow is tipping the peaks of the mountains, and highway construction crews are hurrying to get what the work done before the first snow flies . . . whatever the signs, there is not a whole bunch of time before winter settles in. We have been experiencing beautiful weather here in Montana over the past week . . . weather that should be appreciated while it is still here. It only adds to the need for a “time out”.
Be still and know.
If I had known that being an adult would rob me of the adventure of life, I think I would have called a “time out” a long, long time ago. I would have called “time out”, wandered off, found a tree to lean against, and witness the beauty of life passing me by. I would have sat next to a creek and listened to the water babbling and rushing by . . . watch a hawk soar in the sky . . . listen to the song birds sing . . . and, wondered . . . wondered at the awesomeness of it all. I would have skipped rocks across a pond . . . built forts out of blankets in the living room . . . smelled the aroma of fresh baked cookies cooling in the kitchen. I would have listened to the laughter of children . . . the breeze in the air. I would have done a lot of things, but adulthood got in the way.
That little kid within me is banging on the door . . . wanting to get out; but, life is drowning out the sound of freedom and adventure and life. I am not sure how long that little kid will keep knocking on the door. I can hear it . . . especially in the darkness of an early morning commute. I think that it is about time . . . before it is too late.
Time out! A person has got to live if he or she wants to make it to the finish line. Time out!