The S. S. Nameless
I've felt rather thinly spread as of late. My chores are piling up like little dragons that want slaying. So, in the interest of slowing down, putting my nose to fewer grindstones, writing, and gardening, here is a vignette I jotted down recently.
I am inescapably American. It crops up in my nagging addiction to conveniences. Like microwaves and the internet, my default timeframe shouts, "Now!" like Veruca Salt at a toy shop. So, after expending a great deal of time and energy riding my bicycle and the bus to work (not to mention mooching countless rides from friends, neighbors, and my dear longsuffering wife), you can imagine my elation at buying a new car. A couple of old friends had a nameless land yacht sitting around, waiting for the world to turn. So we, in the interest of expediency, put down some money towards it. But the convenience began to go to my head.
I was able to fit more into my days. Long jaunts to rehearsals across town no longer conjured up visions of me pedaling for hours, dodging angry motorists with an accordion strapped to my back. So, I gladly accepted invitation after invitation, and forgot the hidden graces and quiet blessings of a necessary longevity - of a requisite patience. O, to ride the bus and spare oneself the ability to arrive faster by racing harder. O, to sit on those rumbly seats in the din-full corridors of public transportation and meet people who hail from the distant planets next door. I met clowns and paupers and clergymen and politicians. I was given a finger on the pulse of the city, a cross-section of the virtue, vice, and vitriol that ran through the hearts of all my neighbors. Would that I could also refuse engagements out of mere necessity. "No, I'm sorry," I would say, "I have no way to get there." And then I would tend to flowers and vegetables, or bake bread or write poetry or music.
But now we have a second car - a nameless Oldsmobile chugging gasoline across every mile. I shall be a great deal more thankful when there is a carseat in the back and convenience plays host to the need of taking the kids to their grandparents' house. But there are good sides to it already. Its wide seats have seen hitchhikers. Its power windows have been lowered to feel the wind as the city's cadence blew in to my ears. And the drive back home from work is worlds away from a two-hour commute after eight hours of slinging coffee. In all honesty, I will have to learn to manage my time more prudently (including my Sabbaths). I'm going to need to practice my "No." This new car (new to us) wants christening. I'm thinking of calling it Nimitz.