Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Units of Measure

We have reached the 2/3 pole of 2011. Already. I would ask where exactly the time has gone but since your answer will neither satisfy nor soothe me, let us just forget I asked. Hell, let us pretend the words never escaped my mouth nor entered your ear. No sense depressing both of us; right?

I earn my living in the practice of law doing what is known in the trade as "tort defense" work. All that means is that I defend lawsuits filed against entities (public and/or private) and individuals for any number of transgressions. As a general rule, the goal of the party prosecuting the action is always the same. He/they/it want money damages. "I know not what shall make me whole, but I know that a bit of scratch will sure fill in some heretofore empty space" seems to be the rallying cry. And if I sound overly cynical I mean not to. Well, that is not true. I do. But it is cynicism mixed with more than a smidge of self-loathing. For I not only do not cringe at the sound of their rallying cry, I am dependent upon it. But for them, I would not need to exist. And since boyish charm and good looks - presupposing for purposes of illustrating this hypothetical that I possessed either - do not pay the mortgage, something has to.

My lot in life is such that all I do is dependent upon and related to the clock. Days are measured not in something Rockwellian such as "breathtaking moments" but in something far less ephemeral: billable hours. A lot less panache perhaps but substance that you can sink your teeth into. Something to measure.

The downside to measurement is that once you start doing it, you cannot stop. You measure not simply a day but units of days, which set up for your nicely as weeks, months, quarters and - finally - the Rose Bowl of them all - the year. I cannot speak for all who do what I do but by spending my professional life wedded to the importance of time, I have lost much of my ability to keep track of it. Today is the 31st of August. Where has the the first 66.7% of this year gone? I have no idea.

I enjoy having a good laugh at my own expense and nothing makes me chuckle more than the ever-whitening construct of the whiskers of my beard and - albeit at a slower pace - the hair on my head. A couple of years ago I saw some old friends from high school who I had not seen since we were all in college more than two decades ago. One of them - unflinchingly polite as ever - remarked to me that I looked as I had when we were in school. I think I embarrassed her when I asked her if she recalled just how gray my hair was not at age 18. I appreciated her effort, truly I did, but the first person who sees my face every morning is me. The reflection in the bathroom mirror lies not. I wish it did - even if just a little.

We are two-thirds of the way through 2011. In four short months people will be blowing into noisemakers and toasting the arrival of 2012. I shall turn 45 in 2012. It is an age that as a child and (for entirely different reasons) as a young man half the age I am presently, I never fathomed living to see. It strikes me as neither an old age or a young age. It is simply an age. It is a testament to time. Time earned. Time spent. Time wasted. Perhaps. A lot of time has passed 'neath the hull of this fool's ship and I wonder what I have to show for it.

A thought that makes me unique not at all. It is a puzzle really. One to which I do not have the solution. And one that I have not the time to figure out. Not that I would not like to solve it. Time won't let me.

-AK

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