I ran into Juan Gutierrez, my neighbor in Magdalena, at Sophia’s the other day and I was grumbling something about not having enough time in the day. Juan agreed, and we both walked away wondering, “Where has the time gone?” Here we are slipping into August and I haven’t had my fill of July yet.
Oh well, it’s like Groucho Marx said: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” For those who have no idea who Groucho Marx is, or was, he was also the one who said, “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
You may have guessed that one of my favorite books growing up was Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
Speaking of books - and time - summer vacation has about run its course and there’s a flurry of activity around the back-to-school shelves at Walmart. There are notebooks and binders and pencils and pink erasers and other implements of vacation destruction, not to mention the ubiquitous backpacks. As a matter of fact, you can now buy a backpack that’s pre-loaded with all those items; even blunt tip scissors.
Backpacks were not part of the back-to-school list when yours truly was going to school. The only time you saw someone with a backpack was if they were a Boy Scout on a camping trip.
Can I interject “in my day” here? Well, actually “my day” is today, but today – just like the old gray mare – ain't what she used to be. In the 1960s everybody made do with carrying books by hand … and just the ones needed for homework or the next class.
Frankly, I haven’t a clue what kids carry around in their backpacks these days, but one parent said her kid’s felt like it was full of a pile of rocks it was so heavy. And I can guarantee there are no slide rules inside. Slide rules have gone the way of protractors, which have been replaced by the protractor app.
What I find interesting about back-to-school sales, and this applies to both high school and college-bound students, is that in their ads they throw in other not-so-educational products like flat-screen televisions, video game consoles, headphones, smartphones, DVD players...heck, they could even slap a sticker on Ray-Bans and call ‘em a back-to-school aviators.
Anyway, when you're doing the back-to-school shopping thing, at least try to do it locally instead of driving north. Although we make the run to Albuquerque once every month or so for things nobody carries here, each time I’m up there it reconfirms my appreciation for living in a small town where people don’t whizz past you at 60 miles an hour and rarely lean on their horns at stoplights.
Speaking of which, I read an article a while back where a journalist went to find out what town or city was the most polite, and he did this by not moving when the light turned from red to green, then timing how long it would take the driver in back to honk his horn.
I don’t recall the overall comparisons, but I do remember he said at a light in Dallas the lady in back waited through two complete green lights before she gently tapped her horn.
I suppose things like hot weather or being late to get someplace need to be factored in, besides the belief that each of us knows how to drive better than everyone else on the road.
How Socorro would rate on that scale I don’t know, but just last week I sat through one green light before the car ahead moved.
Maybe that’s the whole idea of a new word I just learned: niksen. It’s a Dutch word that means doing nothing, as in, “I may be wanting to get through this green light, but I’ll just niksen until you move.”
NIksen, according to an article I read in the New York Times, just happens. Like sitting idly on the back porch, as I am wont to do after work. The idea of niksen, it says, is to “take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless.”
Daydreaming, an inevitable effect of idleness, “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas,” the article said.
Sounds good to me, since for that to happen, total idleness is required. Am I being lazy? Wasting time? Heck, no, I’m taking a niksen break.
When classes start up again at Socorro High School Monday after next and at New Mexico Tech a week later, I’m guessing niksen will catch on rather quickly in algebra and geometry classes.
And oh, it’s pronounced niksen, as in “Richard Milhous niksen.”
Am I overthinking this?