Time enough at last

August 3, 2020

Listen to “Time Enough At Last” on Spreaker.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been living the dream for some time now. You’d think that being cut off from the amazing opportunity to travel abroad afforded to Carol and me courtesy of Delta Airlines’ Surviving Spouse benefits would leave me inconsolably frustrated, but it has not. instead of focusing on all the spectacular European attractions we can’t travel to during the pandemic, (attractions I’m usually trying to persuade Carol to pass on, anyway, in favor spending the afternoon in the pleasant confines of a sidewalk cafe), I’ve refocused on all the nagging and negative aspects of travel, such as airports, delays, customs bottlenecks and GPS-related snafus.

Now I know people who live active and social lifestyles (and anyone in the habit of nodding hello to a neighbor is someone I consider living an active and social lifestyle)

The dream I’m living is the one Burgess Meredith achieved in the Twilight Zone episode, “Time Enough at Last.” I’ve referred to this episode before, since it is probably my all time favorite Rod Serling yarn. At risk of repeating myself (which my kids will vouch has never stopped me before), the Meredith (Henry Bemis) character is a bookworm, who is the only survivor of a nuclear holocaust. After finding a cache of canned food, he happens upon a library with all its books intact. He realizes with blissful happiness he can now spend the rest of life reading, without a job or a nagging wife to interrupt him.

Well, I also don’t have a job or a nagging wife, and I’ve come to see that the coronavirus lockdown has produced more or less the same opportunity for me that the nuclear nightmare did for Meredith. There is “literally” nothing to do all day but read.

Now I know people who live active and social lifestyles (and anyone in the habit of nodding hello to a neighbor is someone I consider living an active and social lifestyle) are probably thinking that spending all day, day in and day out, just reading is something insufferably dull, but I have found it exhilarating. On those very special days, when I wake up and realize I don’t have to jog, shower or wipe down a wine delivery, I am particularly enlivened by the day’s prospects. That’s especially true if the gaggle of books I’m currently stuck into are all page turners.

Not at all trying to make myself out to be some kind of superior intellect (one of my recent unputdownable reads was a memoir of the Monty Python founder John Cleese), I’ll keep what I’m reading private, except to say there are some books that read like unhealthy snacks, and two of them currently are comparable to sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips and a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups.

I’ve always been an avid reader. It’s my most sociable trait. But I’ve realized that this is the first time in my life where reading has become the primary activity of my day, rather than the thing that is done, say, in occupying that time between actual things that have to be accomplished, like sitting in a waiting room, waiting in a drive-thru line, or sitting in a barber chair with a book to discourage conversation. And no more sneaking glances at an open book concealed in my desk drawer during work, or waiting for lunchtime for that precious hour to read uninterrupted.

Henry Bemis would be so envious.

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