I am of the opinion that in a nut shell the grand adventure we call life is a great deal like treading water interspersed with occasional respite found in a small piece of flotsam that in turn gives us the energy to swim against the current. This is not to say that life is tedious, boring, or pointless.
I have another birthday looming on the horizon and with each passing year it becomes more obvious that much of what we think is important is in fact either irrelevant or is only important to us. Hence the odd refelection on life and its meaning.
An old cowhand once explained it to me this way. “The next time you feel frustrated and rushed to meet a deadline or task, stop and take a deep breath. Then ask yourself if this particular issue or project will seem as important six months down the road. If the answer is no, get it done but don’t worry about it. Now, if it will make a difference ten years down the road, or change the lives of others for the better, then it is very important, needs to be a priority, and is worthy of stress and frustration.”
Brad ended my lesson of the day with two points that gave me plenty to think about over the next couple of weeks as we strung wire along the Mimbres River bottoms in southwest New Mexico. “Quick, who was the speaker of the house in 1956? See, less than thirty years ago (this was in 1981) this feller was one of the most important people in the world and today nobody remembers him. Now, consider Jesus. Love Him or hate Him you have to admit He is remembered and that those who have sincerely tried to do as He said have changed the world for the better.”
“Here is one last thing for you to chew on. I have been blessed with a long life spent doing what I enjoy best. I have a good wife, two good boys, and a healthy crop of grandkids. Still, if I pitch over deader’ than a door nail out here in this brush, who besides them will miss me ten years from now?”
I think about Brad and his homespun wisdom quite often, especially now that fifty is fast fading from view in the rear view mirror. Over the years it has served me well and on more than one occasion it has kept from doing something stupid in response to frustration, the tedium of being saddled to a regular job, or the anger that comes from cleaning up after someone elses ignorance induced disaster.
Life is an endless opportunity for frustration if that is what you choose to seek. Been there, tried that, didn’t like it. So, with our long awaited trip in limbo (we will be on the road at some point in the next couple of weeks) I have a brand new opportunity to put my money where the mouth is and see a silver lining.
Well, the first that comes to mind is that if we have to postpone the trip by a couple of days there will be a room open at the Wigwam in Holbrook. Another is that my wife’s hard work is about to payoff in fresh tomatoes, the first of the season.
I won’t lie and say a possible delay makes me happy. I am eager to share a table with my wife at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, and watch the smile spread across her face as she takes the first bite of their wonderful pie.
In the research for Ghost Towns of Route 66, I discovered a few things about Newkirk and Montoya in New Mexico that have me chomping at the bit for some exploration. There are also the folks I am eager to meet, like Ron Jones and Laurel Kane at Afton Station.
This grand adventure, this long anticipated road trip has been more than twenty years in the making. So, why stress over a delay of a week or two?
Besides, there is ample opportunity in the next few weeks for treading water as I earn the money that pays the bills, keeps a roof over the head, beans on the table, gas in the Jeep, and pays for the road trips. To spice things up a bit we have more than a few of those things that make treading water so worth while. 
We have an authors reception at the college tonight, a book signing in conjunction with the Downtown Merchants Spring Fair on Saturday, and Chillin’ on Beale Street tommorrow night. Then there are alway the “have tos.”
I have to prepare the swamp cooler for summer and get the Jeep ready for the road trip, finalize a few website issues (Route 66 Info Center) and make arrangements for the book signings in June and July after the second printing of Ghost Towns of the Southwest a couple of weeks.
I will leave you with two thoughts as a close for the day. None of us are getting out of this alive, so enjoy life as much as possible and leave the place better than it was when you got here.
Second is for the folks along Route 66. You have had ample notice. The Hinckley hillbillies are heading east very, very soon.