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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Racing with the Moon

Max Roytenberg, February, 2015, Phoenix, Arizona



It is almost twenty years since I left regular job employment behind, left behind the cut and thrust of daily appearance at the jobsite. Dressing appropriately, behaving appropriately, being with people with whom one did not really choose to be with , and answering, in at least some measure, to the ideas, imperatives, even orders, of an individual, individuals, or a body, motivated by impulses with no necessary relation to your own mindset. Looking back at that, thinking about it, it seems to me, now, a potentially awful position in which to be. Yet, most of us working people actually spent almost all of our working lives in that very position.

Looking at it now, with the perspective of having spent the last twenty years as a relatively free agent, I am astounded at how joyfully most of us placed ourselves into that very position. How eager we were to get that paying job that was to guarantee our prosperity, and even our happiness. Well, it did beat the alternative, unemployment, and even poverty, if mummy and daddy eventually kicked us out of the back bedroom.

Oh yes, many of us worked our way into a profession, and in that case could sometimes run our own show. That somewhat expanded our freedom of action. But, isn’t it true that in many instances the situations we were in actually commanded what we did with our time, with our lives? Very few of us actually ended up really doing what it was that we really wanted to do. (There were a lucky few, weren’t there?) If we were clever in managing our lives, we were able to carve out a small piece of it to devote to that. Most of us put off our dreams. Maybe, when we retire……………  Most of us, women and men, were good soldiers- just got on with the job of being adults, whatever that meant.

Is it just me who is seeing things this way? Is this a sign of impending dementia,  an epiphany, an insight, an instant of painful clarity? At first, things seemed like same old, same old. And I played that part in using up some of my precious time, completing outstanding tasks. But then, surveying my past, I came to believe that I could re-make my past to refresh my future. And that is what I did. I rediscovered the early inflection points in my life that mattered so much to me, and determined to return to those times to make new beginnings. That has been the story of the last ten years of my life. Can you be that fortunate?

The sun rises, the sun sets. The days roll on. We are racing through the different phases of the moon. These days, in my current now, I am racing with the moon. I am trying to make every moment count. I am moving my feet as if they were made for walking, swallowing every picture appearing before my eyes. There were so many things that I put off for later. The press of urgent matters, matters that had priority in my world of work, were always first in line to be done. Too often the nurturing that should have been done, for others, and for my inner self, were allocated for attention at some future time. Obligations, many of them worthwhile, benefitting those for whom I may have accepted responsibility, elements of a public trust that I may have signed up for, were first in line for my attention. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The realization that time was fleeting, sank in too slowly. I am on alert now. My personal obligations now come first. How selfish I aspire to be, trying to right some wrongs, even where the bird of time has flown.

My agenda is full, and it is almost entirely consumed with time spent with the people who make up the living elements of my life. My ear is attuned to what it is that have to say to me and what I have to say to them, the people around me. The superstructure that underlies/overlays our lives gets only that passing attention it deserves; it is only a necessary evil. I am sometimes out of breath with the fast pace, the moon always ahead of me. I exercise my body and my mind to cope with that.

I will be honest with you. I am fully committed to using every remaining minute of what remains to me of conscious existence to engage in all the things I want to do. Yet, one of my greatest pleasures remains in putting down that book that I absolutely must read, putting aside that task, on the completion of which rests the whole future of Western Civilization, delaying the transmission of that inter-generational message to a related offspring on which depends the existence of my family heritage, and rather, staring into the middle distance at the beauty that surrounds me, I just twiddle my thumbs.

Will you join me in a wee dram of Jamieson while we contemplate the future and gaze at the moon?                                                                                                                                                      


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