Monday, January 17, 2005

Casey at the Bat: It's All About Time

We've all read the classic poem Casey at the Bat, but do you remember it? Casey was a slugger, or so they said--a slugger with the hubris to let some pitches go by.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place,
there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt t'was Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped --
"That ain't my style," said Casey.

"Strike one!" the umpire said.
I've been reading recently about time and its compression. Esther Dyson writes about this, or so I recall; I can't find the reference. Time-saving devices speed up the consumption of time, perhaps saving it only for other time-saving devices. We're harried, hurried, and yet we collect bits of time the way a madman collects shards of tin or lengths of twine: the lengths are no doubt useful, but for what?

Yet time is the ultimate currency, and it does seem that to let moments go by, without harvesting them somehow, is to let a pitch go by, without even swinging. strike two.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,

but there is no joy in Mudville --
mighty Casey has struck out.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

1 comment:

robyn ginsburg braverman said...

I have a friend who, while helping move his grandmother out of her lifelong home, found a drawer simply labeled, "pieces of string too short to use."