My life used to be a mess. Then I discovered the magic of Day-Timer pocket-sized scheduling notebooks. Now, my life is a meticulously arranged mess. But once a year, the supply of notebooks runs out and I have to deal with the sobering process of buying a new batch, which can put a damper on a Day in no Time. Boxing up 12 months worth of dog-eared scribblings and opening a box with 12 months of crisp blank pages inside that will soon hold a year of my life has a way of putting things in perspective. And the old expressions “start with a clean slate” and “time marches on” don’t do it justice.
For one thing, at least 90 percent of the notes in my old Day-Timers are totally illegible. I’ve always had miserable handwriting. What if started printing my notes to myself, rather than using cursive? Wait...I already do that. Never mind.
And of the notes that ARE readable, about 90 percent of them are cryptic. Does the jotting “box leonard Tue” mean that I should have had a boxing match with Leonard, or that I should have sent him a box. And which Tue? Uh, Tuesday? Just when I’m done making resolutions to improve my handwriting, I look around for the extra bonus notebook that’s always hiding in the packaging: a booklet titled “Five-Year Planner,” with blank pages representing the months of, you guessed it, the next five years.
The idea of somebody actually looking that far ahead is incomprehensible to me. Unless you’re starting a five-year jail sentence. Or taking a college class for credit titled “My Personal Five Year Plan.”
For folks of my generation, I’m guessing the objection to thinking long-term goes with the territory. In the Cold War years, I was pretty sure the world was going be blown up within a year or two. When the world didn’t end, but Vietnam began, time was measured against the draft notice with my name on it that might have arrived any day. Once out of the Army and married, the future hinged on a yes-or-no as to whether having kids was in the cards. Once our son was born we were so focused on finding a good school and paying the bills that everything else seemed in limbo.
And so it goes. Nowadays, a large part of my junk mail is ads for burial insurance. As I toss them in the trash, I always think of a friend of mine whose father got the hard-sell once from a young door-to-door salesman of burial insurance.
After hearing the spiel, the father told the salesman, “I’m not worried about a funeral. I figure after I’ve been laying around a day or two, somebody’s bound to do something.”
If I’m fortunate enough, some day I’ll be in the position of the lady who was interviewed by a reporter on the occasion of her 100th birthday. When he asked about her plans for the future, she replied, “Honey, I’m so old I don’t even buy green bananas.”
But by that time, I’m hoping the Day-Timer company is savvy enough about marketing that they’ll be offering my generation’s loyal customers a new book headlined “Five-Day Plan.” For those of us who really want to think big. Want a banana? These are pretty ripe.
Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, books, photos and radio features are available on his website carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program “Music from Home” airs each Sunday at 6 pm on Oldies 101.5 and is archived afterward on his website.