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It’s a line from the Eagles 1975 classic hit, Tequila Sunrise: “The days go by.”
And they do. Whether you like it or not, whether you are waiting for (or enduring) a tequila sunrise on a beach in Acapulco, or working in a coal mine in Eastern Kentucky, or trading stocks on Wall Street, or writing songs in Nashville — the days go by. Like wet sand slipping through our fingers, the days go by.
Lori and I have a friend who takes old videos and transfers them into a DVD. People give him their wedding ceremony, children’s birthday parties, anniversaries, and other significant life events. The quality on the DVD is better and more enduring.
So Lori has been going through all our family videos to see which ones we want our friend to convert onto DVD. The other night after dinner, she asked me, “Want to watch some of the family videos?”
Two and a half hours later, teary-eyed and smiling, we turned off the VCR. I went to bed, thinking that was the last of our family viewing. But the next morning, instead of the news in the background of our get-ready-for-work routine, Lori was playing another family video.
“Look at that, would you?” she chuckled while putting on her make-up, pointing to then-three- year-old Madi’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
That evening when I arrived home, there was Lori again, glued to the TV, video in, on the road to becoming a family video junkie — this time watching the then-young Dr. Whitlock preaching.
“Wow!” she exclaimed. “Your preaching style has changed. You used to be sooo loud, and you preached forever!”
I think it was a compliment, but all I could see was a fuller head of hair, no gray — and smoother skin on my youthful face.
We are a blended family, so our family video viewing takes twice as long. There was Mary-Elizabeth dancing, Harrison being awakened on Christmas day by the kisses of Skittles, his new puppy, Madi with her baby dolls, and Dave playing in his Davy Crocket outfit. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters — they were all there, through all those years.
The days go by: Mary-Elizabeth gave up ballet long ago; Madi’s baby dolls are somewhere; Harrison and I buried his Christmas day puppy, by then the grizzled Skittles, several years ago; And it’s been years since I could hold tiny Davey high above my head — balancing him in one hand, the toddler sucking on his pacifier, kicking his chubby legs, giggling uncontrollably — and proclaim while laughing with him, “Behold, the child!”
Each moment was a moment, caught in time, pictured on camera, fleeting ever so easily, always so quickly, passing through time — time, the common denominator that levels us all until we are all equal, every one of us dust.
But not dust in the wind, floating along random like, drifting in the currents of time, without meaning or purpose. Seeing years compressed in minute-segmented videos reminds us of our two inescapable boundaries: birth and death. But as long as we travel, we can and should sing because we have hope of a forever life that endures beyond the family movie. As Moses said it in his prayer, “Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.”
Yes, Moses, to the end of our lives, and beyond, to a life that extends beyond our lives. William Faulkner put it like this in his 1950 Nobel Prize speech, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among the creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”
Maybe, just maybe, Don Henley and Glenn Frey — sipping straight tequila, waiting on the sunrise — were somehow, somewhere deep within themselves hoping for hope, thinking that there must be more, more than what is here, as “the days go by.”
And there is.
David B. Whitlock, Ph.D., can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.davidbwhitlock.com