It’s Not The Years, It’s The Miles

One poem I have meant to blog on but have not quite gotten around to it because I am not sure what I would say about it is an old English folk poem that engages in the dubious and immoral practice of fortune telling based on what day of the week someone has been born on. In addition to that practice, it also completely manages to screw up the identity of the Sabbath day, and so in writing about the poem, a lot of time would have to be spent dealing with these errors rather than with the more personal or cultural aspects of the poem as they relate to contemporary life. Many people, after all, identify themselves with the day of the week they were born on (especially Tuesday, which is a flattering day), but my day has long haunted me in terms of its meaning: “Thursday’s child has far to go.”

What does it mean to have far to go? Does it mean that Thursday’s child will be particularly driven? David Bowie seemed to think so when he wrote his own song “Thursday’s Child.” To be sure, I have traveled a long way in my life. Even a recounting of the places I have lived, from Pennsylvania to Florida to California to Ohio to Florida again to Thailand and then to Oregon, suggests a life in motion. This is not even getting into my many other travels, some of which I have written about at some length [1]. Even as a child and teenager I was often shuttling around between Florida and Pennsylvania between my two parents, during the short period of time where I was not in classes (since I almost invariably took extra courses in the summer as an academically ambitious person. I seem to have a higher tolerance for miles than most people do, but at the same time I wonder if like a vehicle I have sometimes put too many miles on myself too thoughtlessly.

In the book of Genesis, when Jacob and his family arrive in Egypt at the beginning of their sojourn there, the Pharaoh is impressed with the long life of Jacob’s family (something that is rather uneven in my family), but Jacob himself has feelings not unlike my own, which he expresses in Genesis 47:9: “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”” Certainly the years of my pilgrimage [2] have been few and evil, and they have not attained to the years of the life of my fathers, for though my father died young at 59 (because of a stroke followed by a heart attack), and his father at about 66 (because of lung cancer), most generations of my family have enjoyed long life unless they have had the ill fortune to be entangled in wars [3]. In many ways, I feel both far younger and far older than I really am because of the strange course my life has taken.

In some ways, I suppose it is not the years (which are relatively few) but rather the miles. Perhaps like our beloved automobiles, we ought to measure our time not only in terms of our model year, but also how many miles we have put on our lives in our travels, in our efforts, or in our cares and worries and anxieties. We may not wish to worry ourselves or work ourselves into an early grave on the one hand, but we might appreciate the sort of maturity and understanding we gain from a wide understanding of the world through personal experiences. There is a happy middle road between being in too much of a rush and not being motivated to do anything or go anywhere at all. Where is that balance to be found, though? I do not pretend to be an expert on achieving this sort of balance myself, although I strive for it mightily. Hopefully the years, and the miles, will be more kind to me in the future than they have in the past. I cannot imagine enduring on this earth for 35 or 40 more years, or longer, unless the years grow considerably more kind from here. There is only so much one can endure, after all.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to It’s Not The Years, It’s The Miles

  1. Pingback: Hope For The Hopeless | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Reluctant Journey | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Leave Me Two Lights | Edge Induced Cohesion

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