Turn the Page

I use a large desk calendar to keep track of my daily schedule and various appointments.

As I am, to a large degree, a “visual thinker” the calendar acts almost as an extension of my mind during the swirling tumult of chaos known as the newspaper business.

There is such a delightful feeling of closure when I draw a diagonal line through the last day of the week. But even better is when I’ve reached the end of a month, and I am able to turn over a whole new page of possibilities.

A few days ago, I traded my used-up 2010 desk calendar for a 2011 model. The new calendar gleamed in its shrink-wrap, with 12 unused pages just begging to be covered in pencil, pen, and yellow highlighter. Each numbered blank square was ready to be filled with such vital notes as: “call HPD about drug bust” and “county commish, 10 a.m.”

But before I tore into the cellophane wrapping on my brand new year, I stopped for a moment’s reflection.

Picking up my old calendar, I noticed its worn edges and tattered pages. I looked over last January’s entries and remembered my excitement about what 2010 might hold for me.

Flipping through each month, I remembered breaking stories I hastily scrawled with a heavy hand as well as faded brown rings left from the countless cups of tea I consumed each morning.

Not only were there matters of business but personal jots and tittles. There’s one note reminding me to be the “Tooth Fairy” for my son who lost an incisor that day and there’s a cryptic sentence in March referring to “bad news about trip” that I am unable to decipher to this very hour. I should write myself a note right now reminding myself to leave better, more descriptive, notes in the future.

The pages, wilted and stained with ashen gray pencil marks and erasures, scrawling in blue and red ink, important stories or meetings drawn through in bright yellow highlighter, and each day completed with a single diagonal line signifying the completion of a given set of tasks. These pages mark my days, months and a year.

How heavy this old wore out calendar now feels in my hands.

I put it aside. Everything that has transpired in that year is now rendered obsolete. The scribbled phrases will aide me no further. My moment’s reckoning will not stem the onrushing tide of forthcoming occurrences that awaits me each morning.

The new calendar is light in my hands, and smooth. Clean. Untouched, unknown, filled with wonder and seeming limitless potentiality. Part of me doesn’t even want to touch it, to leave it pure, unsullied by my gnarled and thick fingers.

American poet T.S. Eliot once asked: “Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions, which a minute will reverse.”

This is true, for I too have known them all already, known them all. I have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, and I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

So, I put down my words and carve out my existence from transient moments of time.

Oh, but how relentless time shall have its way with me, so it does for us all.

Soon will I come to another instance, and I will turn the page again.

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