Saturday, September 12, 2015

Take Time for Time's Sake

By Brenda Black

In one brief span of an hour, I learned that a steady diet of daytime television is the equivalent to dining on nothing but cotton candy covered in skunk. What a wasteland! My viewing was not by choice, but by entrapment, in the waiting room of a dealership's service department. And just when I had my fill, a daytime t.v. junkie entered the room.

He found the remote control and cranked up the nonsense, cruising through lame tips for better marriages, political bantering over the least important issues, crackpot doctors doling out advice based on anything but science. Then he began his commentary, spewing opinions, obviously fueled by previous days spent lingering tubeside.

Complemented by the smell of stale and burnt popcorn, my stomach began to churn. Try as I might to concentrate on the work on my laptop, I longed for fresh air and something intelligent to ponder. No wonder our world is in such a mess, if this is the garbage filling idle minds day after day. How we, as Americans, do find mindless and futile ways to pilfer the time away.
Time. It is fleeting and fragile. In the past month, I learned of eight individuals I knew personally who passed from this life. Their time suddenly halted. That makes me stop and think just how am I spending this precious commodity in limited quantity that never regenerates.

There are countless ways to invest it, clever ways to enjoy it, powerful ways to utilize it and creative ways to embellish it. But you only get one chance at every minute. Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough of those.

I'm learning as the years fly by that time flies exponentially faster. Each day seems to come and go with lightening rapidity, leaving me shaking my head and wondering how I didn't accomplish more with the time I had. Instead of regretting the tick-tocking that keeps me panicked, I'm trying to become more cognizant of just where all the moments get passed. I won't waste your time listing the petty things that rob my days. Instead, I'd like to challenge you to take a few seconds and evaluate your own limited treasure chest of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years.

See where it is spurned and spent. Notice when it crawls or flees. Take a moment and make a plan to guard the days ordained for you on this planet. It might just be the best time you've ever spent.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Coming Home from One Side to the Other

By Brenda Black

Show me vivid green pastures dotted with black cattle. Show me white pines and giant oaks stately guarding Ozark hills. Show me rivers glistening and rambling. Show me flooded rice fields dancing on flat bottom land. From west to east, the scenery changes in the Show Me state, offering diversity that is broad and beautiful, one side to the other.

I took the ten-hour round trip tour a couple of weekends ago from Clinton to Sikeston, and home again. The hubs and I criss-crossed 12 counties, marveling at their differences. Though Mark Twain hailed from the opposite corner of the state, his namesake forest across the south central region offered scenic tranquility for part of the journey. The deep, dark, seemingly endless rows of trees surely would have inspired the story teller with as many back wood mysteries as the Mighty Mo river provided a backdrop for the folklore he made famous. And that's the beauty of this great state. Her cultural differences, various industry and natural characteristics run wide and deep, worthy of notice.

I often ponder on such road trips about the outcome of life had I lived just a few hours one way or another from where I call home. How much would the opportunities have changed; how would my world look differently? Would I still have gone to college or met the man I married? We spot pretty homesteads along the route and ask one another from time to time, "How would you like to live there?" We dream for a bit and venture the scenario, then always come up with the same answer. 

"No, I think I'll stay where I am."

There's no place like home. Though I must admit, I am tempted to transplant a few of those gorgeous tall evergreens and borrow a cool, clear stream for personal landscaping. A sprawling ranch with board fences and pristine paddocks, absent of ragweed, looks inviting. I'd like the deep, rich soil for our pastures and garden and some of those mountainous slopes for winter sledding. But, home is home and it always feels good to come back where the roots run deep and the surroundings are familiar.

Sometimes it takes a jaunt just a few hours away to rekindle an appreciation for the place where God planted us. It's nice to see the diversity; fun to enjoy some new scenery. But in the end, when the forest faded away and the sunset came into view, west and ahead, it felt right; it felt good. With some unseen, emotional magnetic force, home keeps pulling us back to the life and the folks we love and the history we've created.

From one side to the other, our state is spectacular and it's people memorable. Still, from one side to the other, home is preferable, and I'm glad each time I get there.