Johnson: All I want for Christmas is Thanksgiving

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I’m attempting to pen this column on a Thanksgiving holiday return flight from Philadelphia, Pee A, to Lost Wages, Nevada (alas, “cheap fares”). We had a wonderful three-generation convergence with family back east. Not having flown recently, I must say that Hell’s fury is a cakewalk compared to the ordeal of security lines, being patted down, felt up and having my private parts X rayed. Now I get to spend six hours wedged in a child sized seat—a full waist size larger and 10 pounds heavier than on the pre- Thanksgiving flight—inhaling atomized coughs, sneezes and spittle of three hundred strangers from God knows where. This is not a metaphor: we ARE sardines...fin to fin, shoulder to shoulder; backs to laps. Not if, but when, the coming plague purges our planetary Petri dish of humankind's greed, overconsumption and overpopulation, to something more realistic and sustainable, its mechanism will most assuredly be airplanes (cough). Most of the "bacteria" in this air- borne lab experiment for the spread of con- tagious disease are headed off on a holiday vacation—to gamble away hard earned money in the blighted cesspool that is Las Vegas...happily paying for the privilege with "donations" above and beyond gambling losses in the form of hotel, air, and food fares, and pronouncing it "fun.” Pardon these symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress
Syndrome, a by-product of overindulgence, jetlag, family dynamics and the “Pringle Effect” of being smooshed into a cylindrical tube and shot canon-like through three time zones. Once loose and comfy jeans have a Hulk Hogan scissor-lock on my new waistline, leaving me to endure a six hour coup de grace seam invasion that blocks circulation and painfully separates Mr.RightyfromMr.Lefty.Boxershortsare now Hot Pants, wretchedly bunched into nooks and crannies that, in all good taste, need no further description. TMI. Our brief interval spent with family evaporated like warm breath on a frigid day. It occurs to me that Time is a paradoxical commodity not unlike money; finding the proper balance between “spending” and “saving” depends on how long one lives (crystal ball anyone?) Postpone, and we run the risk of some unforeseen anomaly on an Actuary Table. Screw ‘em. Isn’t it Time more than “stuff” that our children and families need anyway? A new iPhone doesn’t oil the gears of rela- tionships more than a couple days. In fact, it’s actually counterproductive given that all personal communication forward is via text message. Once spent, Time slips into the abyss, never to be retrieved or relived except
in memory. That is what makes "Now" more pre- cious than gold. We can always make more money, but we can't make more Time. My row-mate is on his way to waste both time and money by giving it to
billionaire casino owners. Airplanes, big cities and crowds are out of my comfort zone; it’s why I chose to live a somewhat iso- lated and sheltered life in Lovely Ouray. But some in our family aren’t getting any younger, so here I sit, a “Pringle in a tube." This year, instead of “stuff,” our family gave the precious gift of Time to each other for Christmas; it won’t last as long as a calendar or socks—but it is “personal.” Jet engines hum a monotone lullaby. Eyelids droop, head nods and a little drool forms at the cor- ner of a weary mouth. Mind-gears disengage and I submit to exhaustion. A rush of media fills the vacuum of unconsciousness—snap- shots of a Thanksgiving convergence with family—Time spent, laughing, drinking, eat- ing; dozing through old movies, football games and the same old stories. There were woods walks, Frisbee sessions and jamming in the Man Cave with guitars and harmoni- cas; playing ping pong; petting children and new babies, and dogs and cats, all with bot- tomless appetites for attention; and OMG,
New York City on a Black Friday whim. Suddenly it's over. We go separate ways on planes, trains and automobiles—contrails of connection dissipating in homeward wakes. Work and "under construction" lives call us home; all that's left to show for our reunion are photos, memories and slightly deeper connections, which, in my dreamy, subcon- scious state of mind, it occurs to me that that's the real reason we are on Planet Petri dish in the first place. Time marches on, when it's gone, it's gone. It can't be retrieved fromtheabyss;therearenodo-over’s.Itis up to us to create meaningful “Thankful” moments before the "Candle Snuffer" crash- es our "party." We need to say the things that need to be said. As alluded to in my previous column, Destiny (Time) has neither heart nor soul—it shrugs with indifference at our plight, path and dreams. Those fortunate enough to grow older, grow wiser. We realize what’s at stake, the growing importance of “connection” no matter the cost in dollars and convenience. It's called love.
Mark Johnson is a restless soul who lives in Ouray, Colorado with his wife, Bobbie. He is happiest when exploring the West's nooks and crannies, hiking, climbing and moun- tain biking. He authors two "wanderlust" based blogs: www.Artfulrvadventures.com and www.Boxcanyonblog.com.