Pine Nuts: The future is here and the present is (woops) gone |

Pine Nuts: The future is here and the present is (woops) gone

Everything is so digital and rapid today we hardly have time to process the present. Before we have a chance to enjoy a moment, the future is tweeted and the present is gone. There isn’t time to enjoy the present — it’s too fleeting. “Woops, where’d it go? It was here a minute ago!” Our intellect is moving faster than our emotions can handle.

Way back in 1961 a stage musical was born, “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off!” Back further still, in Mark Twain’s day, the super information highway was the Mississippi River, and information moved slow as a mud turtle.

Some of us prehistoric Beatles fans find ourselves asking, what ever happened to, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I was told by a child of forty that nowadays it’s, “Your place, my place or right here?”

So what’s the answer? The answer is … slow down! Slow our production of weapons. Slow our devastation of the climate, and slow down speed dating. An introduction on a speed date, as it was explained to me, can go something like this:

“Hi, my name’s John, glad to meet you. Do you kiss on the first date?”


“How ‘bout the last?”

My idea of a speed date is something like this: “TOCCATA will be presenting the Messiah at St. Patrick’s in December, would you like to go with me this year or perhaps next?”

I’ve been a columnist for 17 years, an impressionist for 30, and an ass for fifty.

During that time I’ve always been in the slow lane. When bumper stickers started appearing, “I CAN’T DRIVE 55!” I thought they meant, “I CAN’T DRIVE THAT FAST!” And not unlike my hero, Mark Twain, I never saw an opportunity until it had ceased to be one. Were I a rooster, the neighbors would be petting me for not announcing the sunrise until eight or nine o’clock, if at all.

So how do we slow down time? I say take a walk alone, or with someone you love. The Japanese have a word, “tashinamu,” that means to do something just for the hell of it, without expecting remuneration or thanks.

As an example, Gerald Goldman, 94, makes American flags out of wood slats and gives them to his neighbors to display outdoors. Alice Smith vowed before she died, “to devote the rest of my life to helping my fellow man without pay or thanks.”

Though I have no scientific proof, I can’t help feeling a face-to-face meeting slows time more effectively than a Google search. In closing I might like to suggest: Don’t text if you can telephone, and don’t telephone if you can tap someone on the shoulder. Let’s try to make the present stay around for more than a New York minute, and appreciate the unhurried company of our friends, family, and neighbors.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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