Monday evening, my nephew, Michael, Sammy & I attended a community art project at Space Studios, and I’ll have to fill you in on that later... The focus of the art project, though, has to do with a basic premise that we are all connected. All humans, animals, plants, all life forms and resources on this planet.
Sitting out under the pine trees outside at the picnic tables at Space Studios, one woman was talking about how that was the theme at Sunday service at her church. She went on to explain how when a person does something bad, something they know is not the right thing to do, how it affects everyone, how their feelings about themselves affects their relationships with others, how those others feel about it, and so on and so on. Kind of like the “pay it forward” theory in reverse... essentially the lesson being do good, because if you do bad, then everyone is affected badly.
I was thinking about that while on my drive into work Tuesday morning, and on our road I passed a neighbor woman walking. By neighbor, I mean one who lives nearby, not one who is neighborly. Suffice to say that our lack of mutual affection for that family goes back to the time we purchased our property from my sister, Joie, after her husband died, and she and her husband had had problems with that family. We believe the problems are because the land we own and call home was used by that family for decades as favorite hunting spots, mushrooming, dirt biking, etc.; in essence they treated the acreage as if they owned it because they believed it to be state-owned property. The story I heard is that they were quite surprised to learn it was a tract of land they could have purchased, so they felt that my late brother-in-law and my sister took it out from under them. We inherited problems with that family trespassing. Once when Kevin was out back shooting his bow, the husband and wife come traipsing down the trail... just as he was about to let loose an arrow... in their direction. Kev was surprised and annoyed. They were boldly trespassing on our property, they knew it and they also well knew we didn’t want them there. Words were exchanged, and Kev “escorted” them to our property line. The couple was not happy, but they were also cognizant that, legally, they didn’t have a pot to piss in. The woman harped at Kevin, and one thing she said to him was, “I hope you never have children because you would make terrible parents.” Ummm… ok. I guess demanding that habitual law-breakers cease to trespass makes for bad parenting skills. Right. I did not respond to her wave of hello this morning, instead looked her in the eye while remembering her wish for me to remain barren.
Was that negative of me? Yep. But I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind that negativity passing along to her yesterday morning. I wonder if she remembers her awful statement. Likely not. Certainly they have never tendered toward us anything remotely resembling an apology for anything... instead, they fed and watered and cared for the “feud” like it was their favorite child. Once when I was driving our 4-wheeler down our road, & with our little trailer hooked up to it, so I could pick up all the trash, they called the sheriff out to get me in trouble for driving the ATV illegally on the road. Which, yes, I was doing. But it was for a good cause... and technically, I was walking beside it, just pushing the accelerator button with my thumb every now and then to move it forward... kind of like a self-propelled wheelbarrow. The sheriff deputy was disgusted, I could tell, but also I think he was friends with our nasty neighbor, and he basically told me to just use a wheelbarrow from now on, ok? Oh, sure, says I. Not meaning it at all. See ya next spring when I do this again.
And somehow that reminded me of something that happened to my sister, Kathy. They had put an old sofa out at the end of the driveway on the roadside with a “free” sign on it. It was still a great sofa, but it was brown leather-look vinyl, if I remember correctly (debatable), and they didn’t want it. They thought they were doing a good thing putting it out for someone to take free. But someone came along and with some kind of razor-cutter removed a huge rectangle of the fabric off from the back of this large sofa, rendering it to useless junk. Junk that my brother-in-law & sister had to therefore take care of... not a super easy thing to do. What kind of a person would do that? An asshole, of course.
And then, continuing on my drive to work, I went past this local animal feed store that has just recently closed. When we moved out to our property, it was a combined feed store and Amish furniture shop. The owners lived in a house right next to the shop, and they had a barn out back, with horses. Odd combo for a business, I know, but it was what it was... and right after we built our house and moved in, we bought our large, oak dining room table and 8 chairs from them. The owners would get unfinished Amish-made furniture from Illinois or Ohio, and the wife would finish the furniture. She did a beautiful job 14 years ago when we bought our dining set. Last year, being unable to face the fact that she had gambled away all their money, the wife went out back behind their home/feed store and shot herself dead in the head.
That started me thinking again about being negative puts out negative and ends up in negativity all around. Which made me think who would drive down at the end of our dirt road, past our property where there’s a big circle turn-around area, get out of their car and take a dump practically right in the middle of it, leaving their used napkins right near their pile... who would do that? The things people do back there at nighttime... forgetting their remnants will see the light of day. Like the large shrub at the end of a smaller trail off from that big circle... the shrub that was festooned with used condoms. I’m sure those teenagers felt very romantic back there in the moonlight. See that bush in the light of day, and it just looks gross. Very gross. Poor shrub. Poor, disrespected shrub.
And then I remembered something else negative... years ago, back when Joycie was either not yet born or a small baby, I used to leave all 4 of my car windows wide open during the day in the parking lot at work. A parking lot accessible only by my fellow employees, not the general public, by the way. I don’t really know why, but I took to just leaving my car keys in the car that summer. Until the day I came out from work one hot, sunny day and someone had generously rolled up all 4 of my windows and locked my car with the keys in it. Thankfully, I was able to get a security guard to get my car door opened, but that whole endeavor took about an hour and a half. In the hot sun, while the evening plans I had made melted away.
And you know how sometimes something seems real positive? Like the beautiful hay field that the farmer let go one summer, and it grew a beautiful bright yellow field of mustard weed. Or whatever it’s called. Then came fall, and the first hard frost of the year. Guess what? That plant smells truly awful after a frost. Like open sewer awful. Did I mention it was a really big field? A field that surrounds a new church. Bet those Sunday worshippers weren’t so happy about that lovely field of yellow anymore, either. Each time I drove by, I found myself speeding up just to get past it. Hey, something positive – I never got a speeding ticket.
And then I drove by this area along the street in town that used to be crap-land. Ugly scrub and brush, with litter packed along the edge of the wooded area, past what one could loosely call the grassy part near the road. Because of the new baseball stadium in town, this long stretch of land has become beautifully landscaped, with a walking/biking trail through it. I enjoy driving past it each morning now.
While I was enjoying that view, I had to stop at a red light. You know how sometimes there is a car near you just BLARING a bass beat/music irritatingly while you have to wait for a red light? Well, this morning, there was a Jeep with no cover on it blaring out Paul Harvey... cool!
And we’re back to positive. Whew.