The Greener Grass

Recently on my way to my favorite monthly pancake breakfast and winter market I noticed a large black cow down on her front knees (do cows have knees?).  She was in that position in order to reach the grass growing on the other side of the fence.

It couldn’t have been a comfortable position and when she finally ate all she could reach and stood back up, I imagine she was somewhat lame and uncomfortable.

As I watched her and whisked toward my breakfast, I thought about how often we are lured by the greener grass only to discover it wasn’t necessarily any better than the grass we were comfortable with.  The grass in easy reach. 

I’m not suggesting it isn’t a good idea to strive for something better or to reach beyond our present grasp to improve our lives.  But – it did make me wonder if we aren’t many times enchanted unreasonably by what we don’t have, while not fully appreciating the joy and blessings we already possess.  Jumping from one job to another, from one place to another without the appreciation for what we have.

That dream job you’ve wanted could require extra hours, uncertainty and time away from children and family that can never be regained and may not have the payoff we expect.  

How about you – has that green grass ever caused you to make a decision you perhaps regret?  Green grass may be enticing, but frequently can turn to straw.

P.S. Apparently the answer is yes – cows do have knees.

The Sound of Silence

“It’s so noisy, I can’t even think.” I grew up in a musical family and there was always music or a radio or some kind of hubbub going on. My Dad worked for Columbia Records so he was always listening to new records and my mother played the piano and was a singer – so there was always music, some might say noise, in the background.

I grew up believing that it helped to drown out the extraneous sounds when I was doing homework and my parents agreed. They liked music and I thought I could think more easily with music or the radio on. Later, when I went to work for radio and TV stations it just seemed natural the radio was always in the background. In fact – dead silence was a bad thing. It meant we were off the air.

More recently for whatever reason, I have discovered that to really “think,” meaning to really get inside my head and cogitate on a something, I have to remove the background noise. With the music in the background I find myself suddenly singing along – and with the TV, suddenly I hear what’s going on and am lured away to listen – losing whatever it was I was attempting to think about.

The need to think more deeply on some topics does come – or should – when struggling with the harder decisions we are each faced with on a daily basis. Maybe the solution is a little quiet time – a few minutes to step back, get quiet and allow our mind to focus. Solutions seem a little closer when I can actually hear what’s going on in my mind. The sound of silence really can be very enlightening.

We can make it

I grew up in the South (Southwest really – it was Texas), and one of the things I remember the most vividly are the tornado warnings.  The sirens would go off and the sky would get dark and green and the rain would fall sideways.  You’d go to the center of the house, a bathroom or closet, and pray real hard you didn’t hear a train coming your way.  It happened a lot growing up and my family and I were fortunate – we never heard the locomotive.  None of the big black rotating cylinders ever chose our neighborhood, although my Dad, who traveled for a living, arrived in Waco and twice in Lubbock immediately after one danced through leaving destruction and death in its path.

Once he arrived just in time to take a friend home to find his family.  Daddy said they pulled up and all that was standing was the closet door in their living room.  The rest of their new home was destroyed and scattered – much of it was leaning on the closet door and walls.  Inside was the man’s wife and new baby.  Daddy talked about straw driven through plate windows at the local record shop and trees standing stripped naked in fields that once were someone’s lawn.  It terrified me then and it does now.

My Southern Living just arrived and one of my favorite authors, Rick Bragg, shares the story of his return home in the Glendale Gardens neighborhood of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after the tornado of April 27, this year.  Growing up in the South(west) it is a story I’ve heard a hundred times and one that will be repeated a hundred times more – but what he shares is what should give each of us hope in tough times.  He writes about the aftermath of the tornado, but what it’s really about is what makes this country and those who live here special.  People who lost everything they had but their lives reached out to share what little was left with their neighbors – even neighbors they didn’t know – even neighbors not on their street or in their community.

There’s no question these are tough times, but if you question whether we can make it – what we’ll do if times really get tough – I encourage you to grab the August Southern Living.  Turn first to the last page, where Bragg will tell you about the school play that was held in spite of the tornado.  Then go to page 90 and find “What Stands in a Storm.”  We can make it – in spite of layoffs, foreclosures, gas prices that make you dizzy, there is a lot going on that is good.  We can make it if we remember to support our friends and neighbors and our community.  Complaining doesn’t fix it but working together can.