By Keith Turman
I met Gordon for an early morning run. His vision for a nice run around Lake Junaluska was not threatened by silly thoughts of running in flat places where you can smell the roses and marvel at new goslings. We left his home on Harrell Drive and turned to the right onto Crum drive—a nostalgic turn that sent me back in time, to those days when I lived on Crum Drive, in Larry and Ann Wilkinson’s basement. One fond memory is of strolling down Crum Drive with my wife Chan, our one-year-old son Ben, and a bag of moldy bread to feed the ducks. A not-so-fond memory is the stroll back up Crum Drive. By the time Gordon and I crested the hill, my lungs were debating whether or not to leave my chest.
When I arrived at Gordon’s house that morning, he asked me if Ava Gardner could run with us. I said, “Of course!” Ava is beautiful, and she’s a good runner. My lungs were grateful every time she needed to stop in someone’s yard. And Gordon, being the great neighbor that he is, was equipped with the little plastic baggies. In September, as Gordon prepared for the Power of Pink 5k, with dreams of running his fastest time, he invited Ava to run with him. “Can you believe she had to stop during the race? It added a minute to my time!” But Gordon, smiling at the memory, didn’t seem upset at all. Friendship takes time, and it usually costs something.
Our desire to run faster often leaves us running alone. Our desire to make more money, or climb the ladder, or chew up the big bites that were probably too big to take in the first place, often leaves us working late into the night or long into the weekend. And the relationships that matter most are sacrificed on the altar of “I just don’t have enough time.”
I caught myself singing The Rolling Stones song, Time Is On My Side, and I’m pretty sure I sounded just like Mick Jagger. But I’m not sure I always believe the song—that time is my friend. Time seems to ruthlessly leave my side on a regular basis. Jerry Ragovoy wrote the song, which was first recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding and was later expanded and covered by soul singer Irma Thomas. Her version is my favorite. These lyrics remind me that good friendships are ones that have figured out the dance with time:
Time is on my side, yes it is; Time is on my side, yes it is;
Now you were saying that you want to be free;
You're searching for good times but just wait and see;
You'll come runnin' back;
You'll come runnin' back,
You'll come runnin' back to me.
Go ahead baby, and light up the town;
And baby, do anything your heart desires
Remember, I'll always be around;
And I know, You're gonna come back
'Cause I got the real love, the kind that you need;
Time is on my side, yes it is
I wonder if God ever sings this song. It stands to reason that God has heard it, God being God and all. It seems like a song God would sing to me: “Go ahead, run fast and free—chase after all that stuff you want. Time is not a problem. With me, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. And I’ve got the love you need, and I’ll always be around. You’ll be back.”
It’s a love the world needs too. But we’re so busy running away from each other that our divisions are growing deeper with each passing day. I’ve come to believe the song is true. Time really is on my side, if I can just learn the dance and sacrifice the right things. Friendships will happen, and if God’s kind of love is at the center, they will be really, really good ones.