Over the past several weeks, my wife and I have observed on multiple occasions a driving maneuver that shocked us, first by its audacity and soon thereafter by its frequency. It apparently requires that you start in the far lane on one side of the road and then, with no notice or signaling at all, cross at least two lanes of traffic to make a turn in the other direction (e.g., a left turn from the far right lane). We’ve dubbed this the “double-cross” for both the number of lanes you must inconvenience (terrorize?) as well as for the unexpected and misleading nature of its execution. We were further disheartened to hear from our daughter that this practice has now spread as far as Long Island. The icing on the cake, however, came during a recent local outing. My wife and I were waiting behind a driving school car to make a left turn at a huge intersection. Suddenly, the driver veered out of our lane, drove across the two lanes of cars next to us, swerved into the right turn lane and took off. We still don’t know who these people are or why they’re doing this, but we now have a better idea where they’re learning it.
Beginning in the late sixties, Piet Hein’s little book of little poems entitled Grooks showed up on new, then used, bookshelves, frequently provoking feelings of curiosity or nostalgia depending upon the reader’s history with the volume. One of his Grooks that stayed with my wife (and, thus, with me) over many years is ‘T. T. T.’
T. T. T. Put up in a place where it's easy to see the cryptic admonishment T. T. T. When you feel how depressingly slowly you climb, it's well to remember that Things Take Time.
Long after we forgot the wording of the poem, the phrase ‘Things Take Time’ would help provide a needed recalibration and perspective. And as I dealt with personal challenges somewhat later, my wife’s compassion demonstrated an honest embrace of the sentiment. In heartfelt acknowledgement of this powerfully simple principle, I cross-stitched a tiny ‘TTT’ for her locket.
Until recently, I saw the lesson of T.T.T. as in the poem — a lesson in patience, a reminder that doing anything significant (or well) almost always requires the benefit of time to bring it into full flower. Things Take (i.e., Require) Time. Now, after a full decade of effort, sadness and satisfaction deciding how to disperse all the contents of our departed parents’ homes and then purging our own cluttered house during renovations, I am struck by another lesson in those simple words: Things Take (i.e., Demand) Time. And when you reach our age, you can feel how important it is to parcel out very mindfully the time you have to spend on things.
In the first lesson, it is the things that are important — accomplishing things that matter, creating things that will endure: a lesson for the earlier arc of your life. Once your life’s trajectory has passed its peak, it is time that becomes precious, and you feel the need to free yourself from reliance on the less important things that will use up that time.
Things Take Time — yes, they do. And yes, they will.