Friday, February 29, 2008
'Live for today.’ ‘Take that special trip while you can.’ ‘Stop saving the good china, crystal or silverware until later.’ We’ve all heard that advice, especially how we shouldn’t put things off until it’s too late. The problem is, when is later? Now is easy, but it’s a little more difficult to decide when later finally arrives.
Even though I’ve often tried to bring my ‘laters’ and my ‘nows’ closer together, some things just aren’t that simple. To illustrate, let me go back a few years.
Actually, it’s more that a few, since I was sixteen when I first realized I wanted a motorcycle. At the time, dealing with the desire was simple because there was no way I could afford one. There just weren’t that many yards to mow, snow to shovel or tobacco plants to house. But that was okay, I told myself the time would come after I was out of school, had a job and could afford one. Which would, of course, occur – later.
Well, later brought the job all right, but it also brought a wife, children, car payments and a mortgaged home. But, hey, that was okay. I was young, happy with my life and there was always…later. One day the children would move out, have families of their own, the car would be paid off and maybe even the mortgage.
As expected, later became the present, and it was time to do what I’d waited all those years for. Only, now there were grandkids to baby sit and play with. Somehow the image of this kind old grandfather rocking the little ones to sleep or reading a bedtime story and then going out to fire up the old Harley Davidson and race up and down Main Street while spitting bugs from between my teeth just didn’t seem appropriate. Later would have to wait awhile longer.
Not surprising, later came around again. The kids went in one direction, the grandkids in another, and we moved here to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. In case you aren’t aware, this area is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. A Mecca for motorized two-wheelers. What person could deny themselves the thrill of leaning a powerful, 1200CC beauty at an impossible angle while speeding through the banked curves of one of those seldom traveled mountain roads, listening to the exhilarating roar of those twin exhausts as they shout, “FREEDOM” in a way no enclosed vehicle will ever know or understand? Listen. Can’t you hear that message as thunder echoes back from the mountainside that flashes by faster and faster in a blur of living proof that man and machine can unite their spirits and conquer anything that…
Well, maybe you get the idea. In my mind, the ultimate later had finally arrived, and it was time to fulfill a dream born all those years ago. A dream kept alive by hope. Hope and the belief that later would one day become…now.
Only now, there was a problem. When I was sixteen, all the money I earned from my part time jobs put together wasn’t enough to purchase, much less maintain a motorcycle or pay the insurance. Not surprising, it appears the decision my wife and I made to retire and live our lives together in this land of beauty also didn’t include a budget that stretched far enough to provide for that teenagers dream.
Don’t get me wrong. There aren’t any regrets, because we certainly enjoy our retirement. It has given us a chance to appreciate the things in life that are really important, such as spending time with good friends. The truth is, we take a great deal of pride and pleasure to invite people over to share a meal served on fine china, crystal and silverware handed down from our parents. It’s also a good feeling to know that someday the same dinnerware will be passed down to our children. And to their children. As far as my childhood dream is concerned, well, maybe later wasn’t all that important after all.
But you know, we really don’t have people over that often. Plus there’s nothing wrong with our everyday dishes. I wonder how much money a person could get for all that fancy stuff. Probably enough to put a down payment on a used Harley or Kawasaki. The problem is I don’t know how long it would take before my wife noticed something was missing. Maybe I should discuss it with her first. And that’s exactly what I will do. But not right now. Maybe Later.
Jerry Hobbs is the author of two novels and a book of short stories published by Lulu.com. Click on Jerry Hobbs to see his books. He writes to entertain and has a good bit of humor in his work.