Spin­nin’ wheel got to go round

Life pauses be­fore a flurry of an­tic­i­pated changes

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - Gary Smith Gary Smith is a re­cov­er­ing jour­nal­ist liv­ing in Rogers.

Most of the time, tech works great for me. In fact, far bet­ter than you would ex­pect, given my over­whelm­ing lack of skill.

But ev­ery now and then, when I hit the key or click on the link or what­ever, some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pens. Mainly, noth­ing.

Now, that’s not ex­actly true. Some­thing does hap­pen. A small, round sym­bol ap­pears and starts spin­ning and spin­ning and spin­ning. At the of­fice, we call it the “Pin­wheel of Death,” which is equal parts ma­cabre and over-dra­matic and not ex­actly ac­cu­rate. Af­ter all, noth­ing is dy­ing. It’s just that … noth­ing ap­pears to be hap­pen­ing.

Some­thing might hap­pen. Then again, it might not. Then again, it might. Then again … And that’s the true evil of the Pin­wheel of Death. You’re stuck in place, wait­ing for, well, you’re not sure what. Just some­thing.

Wel­come to the back half of sum­mer. Of­fi­cial Time of Year of the Pin­wheel of Death.

It starts roughly the day af­ter Fourth of July, just about the time the last of the fire­works have been swept up, and ex­tends un­til the mid­dle of Au­gust, when some­thing re­ally does hap­pen. And, it just sits there, spin­ning in the muggy Arkansas sum­mer air.

Some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen. Any minute now. Some­thing …

This has al­ready been an odd sum­mer for us. Af­ter more than 20 years, we’re out of the sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness. And af­ter 12 years, so is our youngest. For him, the next big ad­ven­ture is out there, wait­ing, just a few end­less weeks ahead.

He’s signed up for classes, checked and rechecked his sched­ule. He knows ex­actly when he’s mov­ing in, where and with whom. He’s emailed the ap­pro­pri­ate of­fices so of­ten he had their ad­dresses in his Fa­vorites and they have his num­ber on speed dial.

He’s the as­tro­naut on top of the rocket, go­ing through the check­list one more time be­fore the count­down starts, the kid stuck at the top of the Fer­ris wheel, equally ad­mir­ing the view and won­der­ing when he can un­load and get to the rest of the fair.

Now, all he can do is just sit here, spin­ning, spin­ning, spin­ning …

The Lovely Mrs. Smith and I are in some­what the same boat. The last time there was not a child in our house, in at least some ca­pac­ity, Ron­ald Rea­gan was pres­i­dent, Penn State was the na­tional foot­ball champ and “That’s What Friends are For” was the No. 1 song of the year.

While shar­ing a house with a teenage boy is like shar­ing it with a ghost, in just a few short weeks we’ll be shar­ing it with a mem­ory.

Which isn’t a bad thing. Af­ter all, the wheel turns, even if in this case it’s a pin­wheel. We knew this was com­ing and, frankly, we’re just fine with our own com­pany and the plans we’ve made for the days ahead.

It’s just that, right now, like our son, we’re wait­ing, wait­ing, wait­ing. Not sure what the im­me­di­ate fu­ture holds, pretty sure it will be fine, but …

Some­thing is just over the hori­zon for all of us and the pace to get to it is mo­lasses slow and sticky as the mo­not­o­nous sum­mer. What­ever it is, it’s all in the past or all the fu­ture, and the present is just a heat shim­mer and a v-stain of sweat down your back.

Sum­mer jobs are wind­ing down, au­tumn dreams are speed­ing up and re­al­ity is set­ting in. For all of us, the fu­ture is some­thing of an un­known. We’ll know soon enough, but for now we’re all just spin­ning, spin­ning, spin­ning.

Ev­ery morn­ing I drive by a high school and see young men go­ing through two-a-days, get­ting ready for a school year. A few blocks over run­ners cir­cle the track. In years gone by, I’d per­haps have known the names, pos­si­bly have known the cal­en­dar, cer­tainly have known at least a few of the par­tic­i­pants. Now, none of this has any con­nec­tion to me. I’m not a part of that world any more. I won’t be again.

Even­tu­ally, the pin­wheel stops spin­ning and ei­ther I get what I asked for or I know I won’t. One way or the other, I’ve got an an­swer.

And in just a few weeks, one way or the other, we’re go­ing to know the an­swer. We’ll all be on our way to the Next Thing, what­ever the Next Thing is. Noth­ing will be­come some­thing, and some­thing will be­come all we know, our new re­al­ity.

But right now, we’re just stuck in place. Spin­ning, spin­ning, spin­ning …

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