The Space Between

“The space between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we’ll fill with time
The space between…”

Dave Matthews Band


The week between Christmas and the new year is a wondrous time, a state of limbo and a nebulous preamble.

There are memories of things done and left undone, places visited, goals reached and projects unfinished. Loves gained and loves lost.

There are regrets about things that might have been. Could have. Should have. Would have. Might have. Needed to. Wanted to.

There is  bright hot anticipation, reflected in the two thousand six hundred eighty eight triangular Waterford crystals of a ball not yet dropped, one that in its slow, inexorable perpendicular slide to Times Square defines the space between one year and the next, one dashed hope and a myriad waiting dreams. At the top, three hundred sixty five days seem endless. At the bottom, with the tic of the first second of the first minute of the first hour of the infant year, we know that we will be doomed to meet here again, God willing, to bask in the reflected light of hope once more, one year hence.

Modern day Illuminati we are, striving to write something that we will never be able to read, build a structure that we will never inhabit and control a universe that will never bend to our collective will.

And yet, we are excited. We are hopeful. We make plans. We set goals. We dare to dream. While feeling wistful about the last grains of sand slipping into the bottom of the hourglass, we feel buoyed by the infinite possibilities of a new year.

2018 will be the next in a long progression of blank canvasses ready to be transformed.

We have only to pick up the pencil, the pen, the brush, the knife to craft words that incite, art that transforms, music that fills the soul.

We have only to connect, to form a bond, to fill that infinitesimal but incalculable space between hearts with something that will transcend time.

We have, only, to perfect the pristine new year by soiling it with life’s messy palette.

Welcome, 2018.


Theory of Relativity

My fiancé and I traveled to Spartanburg to visit with my youngest daughter and my granddog Sadie today. Tricia turned twenty five. She is my youngest. We had a celebratory birthday lunch and a nice trip to the shady, grassy, wonderful dog park in her apartment complex. 

Now, first of all, having your youngest daughter turn twenty five does something to your brain. It thinks that it has to tell your body, “Hey, man, you are older than dirt.” Some mornings, when I get up and have twinges and aches and pains and stiffness and soreness that I did not have when I was twenty five, I believe my brain. Other days, I think it is simply deluded and needs more Haldol. 

Time is relative, folks. I look back at the pictures of myself holding my then-two-year-old-now-twenty-five-year-old Tricia and I wonder who that guy is. I mean, the hair is dark brown, the body is thin, the clothes are bad and the glasses are HUGE. Who IS that guy? How did I travel through time and space from that guy to who I am today? Would that guy recognize ME today? 

I have noticed that my sense of time at work is changing. Since I work odd hours, doing both a full time medical director/clinic job as well as a half-time telepsychiatry job, some days are the standard eight hours, while some stretch to eighteen hours. I have found that when I work a full day in the clinic, take an hour and a half to get home and eat dinner, and then go back to start an evening emergency room shift, I am relieved that I only have five and a half hours left in the day. That time seems to fly by. When I start a weekend shift at eleven AM and the clock goes past noon, I feel that I am on the downhill side of the shift because I now have less then twelve hours to go before blessed sleep. Time bends, warps, lengthens and shortens, depending on the circumstances. 

Like many folks I guess, I sometimes find myself thinking of my life in terms of years lived and anticipated years left to live. Now, of course, none of us knows how long we have on this earth. However, if I am very optimistic and think I may have ninety years of life if I’m very lucky, then I have lived almost fifty-nine years of it, and I have thirty-one years to go. Instead of feeling, like I do on my ER shifts, that I am on the downhill side of things and that time is short, I look at that potential thirty-one years and it looks very long and potentially full of wonderful times to come. 

You are no doubt familiar with the principle that says that the amount of time required to complete a project increases according to the amount of time available to finish it. 

It would be nice to know exactly how much time we have to complete our life’s work, our life’s love, and our bucket list, wouldn’t it? The problem is, we don’t have any way to know for sure how long we have. 

For me, it always comes down to how I am going to spend each day, today, now

If I am truly trying to make the most of each day, if I am celebrating each milestone, if I am working hard and loving truly and lending a helping hand, if I am making the world a better place and enjoying myself along the way, then my life has been a good one. 

If it ends tonight, or if it ends thirty-one years from now, I can be assured that I have made the best use of the time given to me, and that is all I could ask for. 

Use your time wisely. 

It truly does fly.