Okay, let’s make it a trilogy on commodities. Two weeks ago in this space it was natural gas in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last week we talked about solar energy in New Jersey. And this week, with the clock moving inexorably toward the New Year, we have another column dedicated to the commodity that is most scarce of all commodities, and the one that we all possess in equal amounts, to use as wisely or as foolishly as we choose.
It’s time, of course. Time is on our side, or not. Time is in a bottle. Or it’s running out. And if we only had a stitch in time, we could save nine.
I’ve been thinking about time for the past few weeks, as I edited the annual wall calendar that we are now distributing to all your offices. It’s a year-end task that I could probably delegate to someone else around here, but I don’t. First because if I’m going to delegate anything, I’d prefer to delegate something that happens once a week, not once a year. Second, I enjoy poring over the 1,000 or so event listings in our database that comprise the raw material for the calendar. It gives me a peek into the future, and a feeling that I am somehow touching the individual particles of sand that pass through the hourglass.
For the U.S. 1 calendar editor the year begins with an abundance of events. That’s not surprising. The event planners and impresarios already have lots of events booked for the beginning of the year; but at the end of 2008 they are still making plans for the second half of 2009.
I have a rule about limiting the number of entries for any single day to five — that way there’s still room to pencil in your own events. In the early months of the year I stretch the rule by doubling up events on the same line. On Saturday, April 25, for example, I listed eight events on those five lines: Sweet Honey in the Rock at McCarter, the New Jersey Symphony at the State, the New Jersey Folk Festival, Lambertville Shad Festival, Communiversity, the Trenton Computer Fest, the Trenton Thunder, and Princeton lacrosse. We had 13 more events in the database for that day that I could have listed.
And it’s true, as poet T.S. Eliot wrote in a different context, April is the cruelest month for the calendar editor. For us it’s the busiest time of year — a flowering of events already booked in for the month, along with seasonal outdoor events that begin taking place that month. The boys of summer — both the minor league Trenton Thunder and the Ivy League Princeton Tigers — jumpstart the summer solstice by more than two months. We shall see what the April showers bring.
Like our youth, the first months of the year fly by. There’s hardly a day without something to do, someplace to go. In 2009, in fact, the first day for which we have absolutely no events listed in our database is Monday, June 15.
The lazy days of summer are not nearly as lazy as they once were. Summer theater, opera, and even business meetings — Princeton and Mercer chambers and the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum all plan events even in the dog days of August.
The fall and winter of 2009 seem a long way off for an editor putting together a calendar a year in advance of that time. The number of announced events declines. You wonder how we will fill the days, pass the time when those dark days come.
You wonder. But inside you really know that the days will be here before you know it, and that the time will pass as quickly as ever, maybe even more quickly.
I’m 61 as I write this. If all goes well I will be 62 when those dark days of 2009 arrive. Since the 12-month calendar is our subject, it seems natural to wonder: What page am I on? September? My father’s still going fairly strong at 90. And if I could match him, I could argue that I’m only two-thirds through. But I am already walking around with two stents and a 50 percent blockage — unstented — in my LAD artery. Maybe that puts me into late October or even November.
A few weeks ago (though it seems like only yesterday) we ran the cover story on “Eloise,” the stay-at-home wife and her chef husband who live a relatively carefree life at home in the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick. Some readers were offended that we chose to highlight such a pampered couple at a time of genuine economic stress for many others and demanded an apology.
I see no need to apologize — we could have written an equally long (but probably less entertaining) article about how hard they work during the work week to afford the home life they enjoy. And to wallow in resentment toward someone else’s fortunes is a huge waste of time. As one of our readers — the entrepreneur Win Straube — pointed out in our support: Focussing on the current “depressing” financial environment is “a sure way of getting more and more sucked into it.”
But why fret about the relative affluence or indolence of Eloise? When it comes to that most important commodity of all she has no more or less than you or I. And none of us knows when the bell will toll.
Happy New Year. Make the most of it.