So we advance slowly and, to me, sadly and reluctantly out of the Christmas season. I dislike January for the letdown that always feels cold and bare, even in warm, florid Florida ( I apologize if it’s your birth month, because only a backward-looking nostalgic fool like me resists the biting cold reality of time marching on.)
I should paste the image of the magazine cover here, but I’ve reminded people on Facebook that in January, 1967, I — and everyone in the United States under the age of 25 — was TIME Magazine “Man of the Year.” (This was before the early wave of PC ruled the noun “man” exclusive and sexist.) We, the under 25 baby-boomer generation were, at that tender moment in American history, the majority of the country, hence worthy of note for our potential to change the world. We didn’t. Not really. And time and war quickly began depleting our ranks.
The magazine cover image shows a young, handsome white male — sort of an imagined composite of EVERYBOY — with a similarly generic girl (young woman), African-American male and Asian male arrayed sort of like a deck of cards. But the white guy is out front. This time period — 1966 into 1967 — would be the last time a white Caucasian male would be seen as representative of all of American youth .No white male is entirely representative of anything in America now — and that is as it should be. We aren’t that representative, and our generational and wholesale numbers are shrinking. (Put gray on all four of those TIME Magazine heads now.)
Too bad that , at this point in time, “identity politics” has commenced to divide that multi-cultural TIME image with every American of every race who came after 1967, being turned against one another.
But back to my main subject here — the passage of time.
(I’m reminded of a fellow television reporter who, in doing a story down here about homeless guys congregated with their beer coolers under a Tampa Bay bridge, offered the memorable — or slightly memorable — line, “they’re just passing their time, until their time passes.”
The other memorable thing about that story was the voice and image of a homeless guy lifting the lid of a cooler and proclaiming, “you just reach in and get ya a nice cold beer.”
I confess, at that moment, that guy’s life — a this was fleeting thought on my part, and a shameful one at that — didn’t seem like a bad way to pass the time or pass a whole life — as long as the supply of cold beer held out.
That was about 38 years ago. I’ll bet the beer’s gone. And I’ll bet that guy’s time passed.
Anyway, here we go again — into January, named somewhere back there for Janus, the Roman god of doorways, beginnings, the rising and the setting of the sun. We are going through that door again. Beginning a new year — still stalked by a pandemic, as by the grim reaper.
“The things of time are toys,” wrote Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. , which, in French, stands for Cistersien de la Stricte Observance. The English translation is easy — Cistercians of the Strict Observance. It refers to a cloistered order of Catholic monks known as the Trappists, named after La Trappe Abbey, one of their ancient spiritual redoubts.
Fr. Raymond goes on, “You are eternity’s child and your eternity has already begun! There is a compelling urgency to every day and every hour of the day. In it we are to witness to the truth — that God greeted and gifted us at Christmas.”
I tend to forget that.
This year, I pray I remember. And that my time goes on — and on….into a Baby Boomer’s bright morning. I’m not ready for sunset, much less the night.
And hold the beer.