Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What time is it? Where am I?

It is early Wednesday morning as I type this.  The last day of orientation.  We should be on the road sometime this weekend if all goes according to plan.

I woke up early -- about 1:30 and knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep, so I got up, showered, and drove on over here to the OC (Schneider lingo for "Operating Center" -- what they call their terminals or service facilities) to do some laundry and catch up on e-mail and some journal writing and maybe post this blog entry.

Waking up so early prompts thinking about time and its relationship to life in a truck and as a truck driver.  

Every truck driver's life is regulated by a clock to an extent not seen in many other occupations. There are delivery times, pick-up appointments, and driving time.  There are very strict rules in place governing every aspect of our lives:  how much time we can drive, how much time we must be away from driving; every moment of my life as a truck driver, driving or not, working or not, awake or sleeping -- every single moment -- must be properly accounted for and documented.  My life is bounded and governed by time to an incredible extent.

At the same time, the particular time at any given moment is almost meaningless as far as how it determines the way I live my life.  For most people, in general, morning denotes the start of their day, they work or fulfill other obligations of their lives, and then their day ends in a generally similar fashion as dark falls.  Even someone on a different schedule (like someone working at night) has a routine that is governed in large part by patterns of the clock.  

For me, those boundaries are blurred (especially when I first wake up!) and largely irrelevant.  I may wake up this morning with the rest of the world at dawn, but the next day may find me in the middle of my sleep at the same time.  "Morning" for me may come at dawn, or it may come at 3:00 in the afternoon.

My life as it relates to time is a paradox on this level:  every moment of my life is driven by its demands, and yet what it signifies is meaningless in many ways.  I've got to be somewhere at an exact time, but just because it's morning doesn't mean I get up and begin my life's routines.

Just as time takes on different significance for me when I become a truck driver, location has a similar quality of displacement to it.   Where I am at is very important in some ways, and totally unimportant in others.  For me, the idea of "home" is vague and indefinite.  The truck really is where I live.  I have a mailing address in Georgia, but that isn't what defines the idea of "home" for me these days.   

I don't know what does.  And yet, I'm content.  Perhaps more content than ever in my life.  

The words to a wonderful Alison Krauss song titled "Gravity" is perhaps the theme of my life right now.

Not being able to attach the meaning of my life to particular rhythms of the clock and certain locations forces me to dig deeper for what my life really consists of, how I define myself, the boundaries that determine my place in the universe.  And I become wiser, get to know myself a little more honestly, and am able to more clearly see what is really important to me.

Then I know what time it is and where I am.

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