Timing Belt Tragedy-A Timeless Lesson

My skills as a mechanic are only slightly better than my skills as a brain surgeon.

On the other hand, I’m pretty damn good at writing.

And that’s why it’s way less painful to write about my timing-belt tragedy than it was to experience it.

If you own or run a business, you can suffer the same temptations I did when it was time to get the timing belt on my Honda Ridgeline changed.

Let me offer you this encouragement:

Resist the temptation to do it yourself!

The ugly details will amuse you and – hopefully – instruct you.

Cigars with YHWH

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” 

YHWH stirred a finger in his scotch, his cigar hanging from the other hand. He gazed into the distance and sighed.

“I really liked that bit when we first thought of it.”

He paused, blew a smoke ring into the air and continued.

“I liked it even better when We first said it. But they just had to go and write it down, didn’t they?”

I kept my silence. I hadn’t lived with Father this long without learning His moods. When He was pensive – especially when He sat in the evening with a cigar and a scotch – I knew what role I should play: the Silent Listener.

“You know them better than I? Why do they insist on taking our Word and sucking the life from it in that way?”

Uh oh. He was really upset. I sat down next to Him and picked a cigar from His humidor on the ottoman: Ramon Allones Gigantes. Smooth and easy-drawing. That was gonna take a while to smoke. He must really need to talk.

Ramon Allones Cigar“I mean, do we not make Ourself clear? We speak, and things happen. We don’t write things down and post them on some scroll or print them in some book or post them on some bulletin board next to advertisements for lost cats and new roommates. Do they realize that it was not mere symbols on a page that created stars and planets? And can they not grasp that it is not ink on paper that keeps them spinning in space? No! It is Our Living Word!”

He banged the scotch down on the table hard enough to splash some on His hand. Without looking, He licked the amber drops from the inside of His wrist and sighed again. I waited for Him to say more, but He just stared off into the distance.

I clipped the end of my cigar and reached for the lighter. I could tell He was not really speaking to me; He was just thinking out loud. I held the lighter up to the cigar and puffed as I pressed the trigger. A beautiful aromatic smoke curled around us in the twilight. In the distance a mockingbird sounded his last song before sunset, and the frogs were just starting to warm up. It was going to be a beautiful evening, but Father was perturbed.

He hung His head for a moment and closed His eyes. I watched the evening breeze ruffle the stray brown hairs of His thick beard. He frequently adopted this particular look: the unkempt beard and bushy eyebrows of a middle-aged human lumberjack. He has an odd sense of style but an impeccable aesthetic sensibility. He’s complex. I guess We both are.

He picked up the glass and sipped again, then held the goblet in front of His eyes and addressed Himself to the smoky liquid inside.

“How is it that creatures so thick-headed and obstinate can also create something so singularly brilliant as single malt scotch and Cuban cigars? How, I ask you?  These men are idiot savants, are they not?”

Glencairn whisky glassI waited for more, but he kept His silence. I swirled the scotch in my own Glencairn and held it to my nose. Tonight we were drinking the Caol Ila 12, one of the lesser-known of the Islays. Father was right, I thought to myself. How could our creatures be so creative in one instant and so mind-numbingly idiotic in the next?

I thought back to my own time here on earth. Living with an earthly body was — odd — and felt so much smaller than my true self. Sometimes I was overwhelmed with the sensation of being so much bigger than what I was able to express through that earthen vessel. As difficult and painful as it was, I understood why Father decided I should become a man and walk as a man among them: I couldn’t truly understand and sympathize with them had I not gone through that experience. And I’d have never tried scotch and cigars.

The cigar was amazing, and provided a perfect counterpoint to the scotch. YHWH continuously surprised me with the things He chose to love: scotch, cigars, earth, mankind, beetles…

The last blazing crescent of the sun slipped below the horizon as the stars blazed to life in the firmament. I was so glad He had chosen earth as the place for us to have this discussion. As much as I loved Our heavenly home, I had grown to love this place when I was a resident here, and I missed it when I was gone.

The stars looked so different from this vantage point, and in a way I pitied my human brothers that they could not observe the stars in the fullness of their glory.

I puffed again on the cigar and watched the smoke drift away in the twilight.

But then, I pitied the stars that they could not know the simple earthly pleasure of a good scotch, a good cigar and good conversation. Stars are amazing beings, but their tastes are galactic in scale. They’re just not sensitive enough to enjoy such subtleties. Nevertheless, it is a good creation.

“It is, isn’t it?”

Father had read my mind and responded to my thoughts. It made me smile. The pleasure of having such intimate knowledge of one another never grew old.

“I love you, Father.” I spoke the words out loud.

He smiled back. “You have listened well. Tell me what you think. Why must they write things down? I want to hear your words, not just your thoughts.”

I puffed again, blew two perfect and a third not-so-perfect smoke ring. As I watched them dissipate into the darkness, I pondered my answer.

“Writing things down is a way for them to avoid death, isn’t it? When they die, they are silent. But if they write down their words, they can still speak from beyond the grave. It’s their way of grasping immortality. And when they write Our words down, it is a way for them to grasp Our immortality.”

Father nodded and blew a geometrically perfect perfect smoke ring into the now-dark evening sky. Sometimes He is such a show-off.

“Perhaps, perhaps. That reminds me.” He changed the subject. “What are we going to do about this whole universal entropy thing?”

Indeed. What are we going to do about it?