0 to 60…Eventually
“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”— Dr. Seuss, “How Did it Get So Late So Soon?”
On the way to baseball practice, Dylan informed me there were 25 more days left of school.
“Really? I feel like school just started.”
“Dad, it’s almost over.
“I’m so excited!”
“Why? Because the kids will be home everyday?”
We coast to the traffic light. The car in front of mine, a faded white Toyota Corolla, looked like it had been on the road since the Y2k computer scare of 1999. Remember–a world-wide belief that computers would crash due to their inability to format the year 2000? And how it was believed this minor glitch would totally disrupt the digital infrastructures and trigger Armageddon? And of course, as humanity’s luck would have it, Bruce Willis was unavailable to save us. He was busy going The Whole Nine Yards.
To the right of the license plate, next to a muffler that choked blue fumes, a bumper sticker’s black letters read, “0 to 60 Eventually.”
“Dad,” Dylan asks, “is the car in front of us on fire?”
“I’m not sure.”
Recently, I began a neurological study with a team of researchers investigating the physical movements of ataxia patients.
During the “getting to know you” portion of the appointment the researcher asked if it was difficult to change my walking speeds.
“Yes. Sometimes I can’t get moving. Like I’m a car stuck in park. And other times, when I do get moving, I can’t stop. Like a car with no brakes.
The researcher took notes, looked up and said, “You’re trouble with starting and stopping is very common for people with neurological disorders.”
“Is there a way to fix this?”
She scribbled down more notes. As I waited for her answer, it occurred to me that I–and maybe you– have been asking a version of this question for years. No matter your brain’s condition, we’re programmed to find a way–healthy or unhealthy–to fix the problems that plague us.
She looks up from her notes, “Yeah, slow down.”
Below are some pictures from Day One of my research trial:
I was fastened to a machine and fixed with mechanical arms. In my mind I was Ripley at the end of Aliens, wearing a mechanical suit and battling the acid-blooded mother Alien for intergalactic supremacy. However, when I was offered a glass of water, asked if I would like the lights dimmed for comfort, and told I could take a break whenever I felt fatigue, I realized I was not Ripley and this was not like the end of Aliens at all.
My three kids will be in the same elementary school for 25 more days. And then Haley goes off to high school and my three kids will never be in the same school again.
25 more mornings of the three kids reaching over each other for cereal bowls. 25 more mornings fighting over Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumbs. 25 more mornings of them buzzing in the bathroom, in the hallway, down the steps, back up the steps as the big yellow school bus stops and huffs outside our house. 25 more mornings of watching my three children form an orderly single-file line, climb the stairs, and disappear on the bus together.
I guess when you’re young, you’re not inspired or even impressed by the relentless passage of time. You harbor the belief there will always be more time. You believe you can shift life in reverse at any time. But time is finite and only moves forward. We are one-way traffic. And the only thing we control is the speed at which we go.
I struggle with going slow. I want to prove to my disease I can still go fast. I want to keep pace with my kids as they race through their childhood. And I feel like if I’m not rushing around, I’m not living up to my potential. As if slowness is a sign of laziness. Of apathy.
But the truth is–slowing down requires more awareness and effort than going fast. It’s a conscious choice. It’s elemental for appreciation.
Kurt Vonnegut’s final book was a collection of personal essays called, Man Without a Country. In the final essay of the book, Vonnegut tells a story about his Uncle Alex, a Harvard graduate and a life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis, who’s principal complaint was that humans never seemed to notice when they were happy. So Uncle Alex taught Vonnegut to, not just notice when he was happy, but to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what nice is,” when he was happy. This forced Vonnegut to slow down. To understand time is fleeting. To appreciate the present.
Is rushing around making us happy? Is wishing the days pass quickly creating tension and restlessness in us?
Maybe, like Vonnegut, we could adopt Uncle Alex’s saying.
And maybe the Toyota Corolla was right. In our speed-trap world, maybe “0 to 60 Eventually” is a worthy philosophy.
Unless your car is really on fire.
Then I suggest getting the hell out of there as fast as you can.
I want to welcome everyone who recently subscribed to my blog through the Book Funnel promotion and received a free eBook version of Bedtime Stories for the Living. I hope you enjoy the book. And I hope my silly, dad brain brings you insight, comfort, and humor each Friday.
Through Book Funnel’s May promotions, I’ve teamed up with over 50 awesome authors for the Wondrous Nonfiction promotion. These books are nonfiction and range from self-improvement to memoirs. Please checkout the link below:
Last Week’s Post: Stripping and Telling Jokes to Pay for College Tuition
I sat in the cushioned chair and pulled my creased, coffee-stained copy of Bedtime Stories for the Living from a canvas bag heavy with crisp, clean copies of Bedtime Stories for the Living that I hoped would one day pay for my kid’s college tuition.
Song of the Week: Vienna– Billy Joel
“Slow down you crazy child…”
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Check out the fancy new sticker for the book cover.
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Educated by Tara Westover
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We’re lucky to be alive
Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former award-winning high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com