Monday, March 10, 2014

So Long and Thanks For All The Books: Missing Douglas Adams

I saw on my Simpsons' calendar tomorrow is Douglas Adams' birthday. It would have been his 62nd.

I don't recall exactly how I was introduced to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back in my middle school days but I easily recall being hooked when I read it, enjoying the clever and funny lampooning of science fiction. I sought out the next books in the series. In fact, when So Long and Thanks for All the Fish (the fourth book in the series) came out and I got it for a Christmas gift, I spent all day on that New Year's Day in my bedroom reading it from cover to cover (something I never did before and still have never done since). I was that much of a fan.

(I didn't care as much for Adams' Dirk Gently books, but the essays he wrote about his travels were quite good.)

Anyway, when I was in college (sometime in the mid-'90s) he came to campus for an event (not a book signing but a speaking engagement, as I recall). I have the feeling it was even free to attend.

And I didn't go. It wasn't that I'd ceased enjoying his work. It was probably something as stupid as not making the effort to get out of work that night, or not being inclined to have to drive over to campus in the evening, or some other lamentable excuse. Apparently I'd gone from being a stay-inside-all-day fan to an only-if-it's-not-inconvenient one; this was during the time when I was more inclined to go to see bands play (which often involved driving much farther than it would be over to campus)—not that I didn't enjoy those experiences, of course. Maybe it was that early adulthood attempt at establishing a different identity, being enamored with what being old enough to go to bars allowed.

Douglas Adams passed away far too prematurely just a few years later (in 2001), and any further opportunity to hear him speak was forever lost. It was then that I came to regret not making the effort to see him that evening on campus.

These decades later it's not an active regret that gnaws at me but I'd be lying if I said I don't strongly wish that this story was relating the time I got to see him during my time at college, not that long before he was gone.

Of the many things I didn't do in college, little elicits anything close to the feeling of regret I get when I think about Douglas Adams (and somehow I imagine a part of me will always feel that way; the Vogons will never clear a hyperspace bypass through this).

We can't do everything; there simply isn't time. But sometimes our worst enemy is that 20-something version of ourselves that passes through a too-cool-for-school phase—or more accurately, a too-uninspired-for-an-evening-trip-to-school phase.

Of all the things I'd do differently from that time if I could there's undoubtedly more important things I should select, but I certainly think if I had a do-over I just might use it to motivate my younger self to get in his car that night and go see a favorite author talk.

No comments:

Post a Comment

So, what do you think?