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In your time (06/15/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
"In your time the innocence will fall away. In your time the mission bells will toll. All along the corridors and river beds there'll be signs in your time." These are the first lines of "In Your Time," a song written and sung by Bob Seger for his son Cole in 1994.

Our lives are an array of beginnings and endings, returns and departures. The country's most notable transition of the past year had to be Brett Favre's retirement from the Green Bay Packers.

Favre is taking it one step farther, announcing that he's taking a year off from everything. The aging idol declared recently, "There are things I missed. You can't get those things back." He says he hopes to see things from the front windshield from now on, and not through the rearview mirror. We Baby Boomers like to romanticize about how reckless and free-spirited it was after high school, when most of us left our parents' home of simple comforts - as well as complimentary shampoo, toilet paper, clean jeans, a well-stocked frig, Dad's Volkswagen keys, and Mom's slap on the behind to keep us straight.

College-bound or not, most graduates had to get jobs doing menial labor and rented apartments in groups of four or five. No one minded that their first place was gross, cramped, had a broken-down, turquoise dinette set, mismatched walls and flooring with cigarette burn designs, leaky faucets, and kitchen cupboards crammed with this and that sent along by doting, distraught mothers.

Seger wrote it: "It seems like yesterday but it was long ago." "We were young and strong; we were runnin' against the wind."

The time was a coming of age in the big world, a time when pocket change was pooled for a six-pack of Schlitz, when high school sweethearts were showered with rice or parted to sow wild oats before settling down. When the cheap thrill of undisciplined freedom wore off, the time came to look to the future in a more conscientious frame of mind. The Boomer high school gang found themselves floundering in all directions, in the main stream of the business world, immersed in a concrete jungle and suburban sprawl.

For all the bellyaching we U.S. citizens indulge in, we come and go and pretty much do our own thing, taking our many freedoms for granted. It hit me in the gut one day as I received one of countless petitions in the mail for a donation to the starving people of a Third World country. What is their life? Their entire reality, day in and day out, is simply survival. They have no luxury of daydreams. Their days are one empty moment after another, breath to breath.

In my secure, small town youth, I recall lackadaisical days - just hanging out, absently partaking of life's greatest gifts. Most Americans can " get away from it all," to occasionally enjoy life or to just "be" in contentment. So, weighing our existence with those from oppressed nations, we have a dimension of inventive thought that they are not afforded. When loafing, we feel anxious or lazy, as though wasting time, accomplishing nothing - not always true.

From boredom and so-called duff times, resourceful thoughts make their way. Doldrums can lead to reflection. Song lyrics can pop into the head while waiting for a bus or lollygagging. Some of the most highly regarded and prolific literature and poetry have been contrived while the writer is feeling nonproductive. Artists create, at times, from images that first delight the mind's eye.

Bob Seger's song closes, "Feel the wind and set yourself the bolder course. Keep your heart as open as a shrine. You'll sail the perfect line, and after all the dead ends and the lessons learned, after all the stars have turned to stone, there'll be peace across the great unbroken void, all benign in your time. You'll be fine in your time."

And the poverty-stricken? When will their time come? Flesh and bones left blowin' against the wind.

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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