The In Between Time

“Dead air is something we cannot tolerate, Paul.”

I was fifteen.  The man speaking to me was sitting at the board in the control room of the little Christian radio station at which I was working that summer.  The board was an amazingly confusing conglomeration of switches, meters, and knobs.  It nearly made my head spin to think about which one controlled what function.
I couldn’t wait to be the one sitting in that seat.
First, I had to learn the little secrets, the tightly held information which could only be shared with a lucky few.  So, I latched onto every word the station manager said.
“No dead air.”  I nodded my head, as if filing away an invaluable morsel of secret code.  
A week or so later, I found myself sitting in that very chair, spinning easy listening records on a Saturday evening.  That’s right, I said records.  Vinyl.  At thirty-three and one third revolutions per minute, the music squeezed its way from the grooves and through the diamond needle on its way to the amplifier and thence to the transmitter.
Beautiful music, they called it.  I even found myself caught up in the arrangement, as I lived the dream of every kid I knew.  I was a DJ!  Kind of. 
The arrangement of “Danny Boy” that the Percy Faith Orchestra was playing was beautiful.  I had another song, something from 101 Strings, cued up on turntable number two, so I allowed myself a few moments of enjoyment.  Carried away by the lush strings and beautiful brass, it took me a minute to realize that the piece was coming to an end. 
Too late, I heard the familiar tic,tic,tic of the needle circling the band in between cuts on the record.
Dead air!
I had committed the unpardonable sin in the broadcasting world!  Dead air could not be tolerated.  That’s what the man had said. 
I frantically turned up the pot for the next record and reached over to start the motor.  The belt-driven turntable started up slowly, as such devices did, and gained speed until it reached the proper number of revolutions per minute.
Wrong sequence!  
The motor was always to be started before the pot was turned up.  The sound of 101 Strings growled up from the groaning, way-too-slow intro to the full-voiced beauty of the orchestra–all in the ears of thousands of listeners out in radio-land.  Perhaps, it was only hundreds.  It didn’t matter.
I was mortified.
First, dead air.  Now, this.  
Not my proudest moment.
It was a moment, though.  
I’ve told you before that I love to collect moments–memorable occasions which are suitable for framing and hanging on the wall of my mind.  I like to take them down from time to time and examine them, remembering the emotions that filled my being at the time the moment occurred.  Moments can be happy or sad, enjoyable or painful, even disgusting.  I save them in an ever growing collection.
I don’t want to talk any more about moments today.
I want to talk about dead air.
Yes, dead air.  The space between the moments.
I was reminded again today that life goes on.  That’s the phrase, isn’t it?  We use it to encourage people going through painful circumstances that they’ll get over it.  We say it to each other when someone who has experienced such a circumstance wants to rehash it and we want to go on to something else.
Life goes on.
I think the words actually mean something else than what we use them for.  We want to communicate that you have to move on, to get to the next event, to leave the past behind.  The words don’t actually express those thoughts, do they?
Life goes on.
Life happens between the moments, too.  Sure, we remember the moments better, but between those memorable events, life goes on.  
We sit.
We cry.
We laugh.
We think.
All of them–part of life which is going on.
We even wait sometimes.  And, while we wait, life goes on.  The waiting is part of life going on, too.
Perhaps, you’ve had a moment today.  You reached your goal weight.  Your best friend moved away.  A favorite pet died.  You got that promotion you’ve worked toward for years.  You had a flat tire by the side of the freeway at rush hour.
Will that moment define the entire day?  What about all the living that happens while life goes on?
I don’t know about you, but I want to remember the text that came from my daughter with a photo of the little girl who hit her face on the bed.  I want to remember the words of my young friend who is coming to respect his wife’s priorities in their life together.  I want to remember the cup of coffee that I enjoyed in a quiet moment at work.  I want to remember standing and listening to the wind chimes ringing gently in the breeze.  
I know.  They’re just dead air to anyone else.
I write about the moments because the stories hold your interest.  What I need to recall is the in between times.  You probably don’t care much about mine.  But, if life were made up only of the moments, a lot of time would be wasted in between, wouldn’t it?
Those in between times, the dead air if you will, serve to help us keep perspective.  Life isn’t all go and all action.  Each of us needs time to think, time to calm down, time to just live.
I like the reminder the writer of the Psalms in the Old Testament gave on several occasions.  He made important and memorable statements, but instead of moving on to the next statement immediately, inserted a word that basically meant stop, sit, and consider.  Thousands of years on, it’s still good advice.
Don’t rush on from one moment to the next.  That’s not life, that’s merely commotion.
Life goes on.
Live every moment of it! 
“God’s voice is still and quiet, and easily buried under an avalanche of clamor.”
(Charles Stanley ~ American pastor/author)
“Don’t count the days.  Make the days count.”
(Muhammad Ali ~ American boxer)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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