Next Time

A portmanteau word is a word that combines words, such as brunch, which is a combination of breakfast and lunch, but since a portmanteau is a large trunk, it would make more sense for portmanteau words to be those that carry extra weight and meaning.

Such as “next time.”

I’d never thought of those particular words — they are so common as to be almost meaningless — but a character in a novel I just finished reading believes “next time” are the two best words in the English language. “Next time” is not exactly mellifluous — others words are much prettier, such as ethereal or serene — but the more I think about “next time”, the more I can see what the character means.

“Next time” tells a story. Something didn’t happen the way you planned, you made a mistake, you weren’t quite good enough, but another time will come around where perhaps things will happen the way you planned, you didn’t make a mistake, you were good enough.

“Next time” is actually the premise of most stories. The story of the three bears comes to mind. The first time Goldilocks sits at the table in the bear’s house, the chair was too hard and the porridge too hot. The second time, the chair was too soft and the porridge too cold. But the next — oh, the next time everything was perfect. As simple as the story line is, it’s the basis of many tales, especially the hero’s journey. He tries, doesn’t succeed. Tries a second time, giving it his all, and still doesn’t succeed. But he undergoes a transformation, becoming the hero — the person who can succeed. And the next time he tries, he accomplishes his task. (Technically, I suppose, the middle try is also a “next time,” but in a way, instead of disproving my point, it shows that there is always another next time.)

“Next time” isn’t just about stories. “Next time” carries within itself a whole trunk full of possibilities, of hope, even of miracles. Anything can happen the next time because . . . well, because it’s not this time when so many things are going wrong.

“Next time” offers a promise of a second chance.

“Next time” gives us a chance to be better. To be kinder, more thoughtful, more careful, more whatever we need to be next time.

So, no matter what happens today and in the next several days, take heart that there will be a next time.


Bob, The Right Hand of God is now published! Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Or you can buy the Kindle version by clicking here: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

4 Responses to “Next Time”

  1. Terry J Says:

    I applaud your effort to bring to us calm via hope for “next time” !
    I am going to try to remember that portmanteau rather than my phrase of fear which is “point of no return”.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      We both know there is not always a next time for all things since we know what irrevocable loss is, but still, there is a next time for finding peace, maybe even happiness.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    It is interesting the meaning of next time positive, hope, encourage, and optimistic as a learner of English as a foreign language.
    Pat next time why not even you can write a new poem for
    Jeff or peace and love or hope for the people in grief.

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