I sat in a coffee shop near 28th St on 8thavenue and watched the customers change. This was at a time before the overwhelming variation of different coffee flavors. Large cups of coffee were called large, small cups were called small, and ordering light with milk was as simple as that.
I sat in a soft, comfy chair, and opened a black hard-covered composition book, with white specks on the cover, a black binding, and white empty pages with blue lines and red margins.
My seat was positioned so that I could watch people walk passed the window. There was no one around me—at least there was no one I knew around me. There was no one to impress. There were no critics; there was nothing but an empty notepad and a white, bowl-sized cup of coffee, with a handle on its side.
This is when I wrote my first real poem.
……if I listen
I can see you in my thoughts
……if I look
I can see you in my dreams
or behind the walls of my eyelids
But I only hope the day comes soon
and I can hold you in my arms forever.
I admit this was written to impress a girl, but that did not make the words less true. I turned the page, and without thinking, without concern for punctuation, grammar, or approval, I began to write…..
I was speaking with an old friend about time yesterday.
We all do time in one form or another. We begin as children.
We begin with the introduction of preschool, and then kindergarten.
We are taught how to tie our shoes; we are taught about different colors, the square pegs go in square holes, round go in round, the wheels on the bus go round and round, and we are also taught about the hours on the clock.
Class starts, work starts, lunch happens, the day moves, and then it is time to go home. First grade comes, then second follows, and as the process grows, the hours we serve gradually become more intense. Lessons change from simple addition to multiplication and division.
We learn about history; we learn about science and the basic elements of life. And whether we benefit or want to learn; we still have to go to class.
If we don’t go to class, then we go to detention. If we don’t go to detention, then we go to I.S.S. or otherwise known as In School Suspension.
And if we don’t go to that, then we get suspended, and if we keep this up, we expelled.
This opens up to a different form of time. If you’re not in the classroom, then you have to work; if you don’t work you don’t eat. It’s that simple…
My Old Man once told me, “Either you do your time in the classroom or you’ll do it here…..either way, you WILL do your time.”
But this lesson applies to more than just the classroom
……..I wanted to do well
but I didn’t want work hard
……..I wanted good grades so I wouldn’t be punished
but I didn’t know the answers,
so I cheated
……I wanted money
but I didn’t want to work for it
……I tried to get the easy way
but I got caught
This is when I learned about the term, restitution.
I learned every action has a reaction, and though the reaction may not come quickly; every action has a ripple effect, and when the last wave from the ripple hit me, the effect was worse than I expected.
These lessons are the cattle prod of life. It’s what keeps us in line. This is the electric fence—and there is such a thing as an electric fence.
I found out about it when I lived on a farm in a small upstate town. I accidentally put my hand on one of the thin wires, which were strung against the wooden posts around the pasture.
The electric pulse did not come right away, but when it did, I was hit with a quick burst of electricity. The shock was not tremendous—but it was enough to teach me one thing:
“Never do that again!”
I suppose the cows had to learn their lesson the same way I did; painfully
We all do time.
But how I serve my time is up to me. Several years ago, I started a journal.
I started working on a dream, but dreams take time, and time is just another word for effort.
Nothing good comes without working for it.
I forget this sometimes. And like the cows in the pasture, I forget about the electric fence.
That is, until a good shock comes and wakes me up.