We watch Antique Roadshow every bloody Monday night without fail, and it’s a cause for celebration by Ron if there is more than one episode scheduled that night. I never make it to the end of the show, however, but have to be awakened by Ron and instructed to go to bed. It’s not that I dislike Roadshow, but it tends to drone on and on. The folks who bring items to be appraised really don’t want to hear the biography of the artist or furniture maker who made their pieces: “John Doe was born in central Pennsylvania, but after studying at Pennsylvania Academy of Art, moved to Paris….” I watch them squirm and try to keep from passing out when the appraiser finally tells them the value of the piece. That’s really all they want to know after all. Then they either try to keep from weeping if the object is a fake or worthless, or jumping up and down if it is valuable. “Wow! I told myself I wouldn’t say wow.”
Then there are the very same advertisements that punctuate each episode. There’s the Pillsbury woman who wants her children to know they are descended from brave people (ancestry.com), the American river cruises where passengers get to stop off at places along the Mississippi that hold no interest for me, or the Viking River Cruises where “one can learn about world cultures.” The same ads over and over again. They are irritating, but It always annoys me that old Torvald, founder of Viking Cruises, repeats “The most valuable commodity is Time.”
Every time he says that I think, “Sure it is, if you are rich like you are, Torvald, have plenty to eat and a comfortable place to sleep…” But, you know, he does have a point. As I get older, I think about time a lot.
In the past month I have lost five people I knew well. I ask myself if people are just dying willy-nilly all around me, but I realize that people I know are dying because they are in their seventies as I am. In the olden days, people didn’t often live as long as this, but even though we eat well and have modern medicine, our bodies are still falling apart. We are just getting old.
I am happier now than I have ever been, but instead of celebrating, I calculate how much time is left. How long until I get incapacitated, until I die? How much longer do Ron and I have together? The numbers are really scary. I make up my mind to live very minute and not count up how many might be left. But it’s hard to keep my mind from ticking off the seconds.
In the words of Paul Harding in his wonderful book, Tinkers, “Be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it.”