Do You Do Anything That Doesn’t Involve Money?

Illustration of a post office on a white background

A while back my wife asked me to make a trip to our local post office to buy 40 Christmas postage stamps for the family newsletter we were sending out to family and friends. So, off I went to retrieve the requested items. Upon arriving at the small building with an American flag waving proudly above it, I found a parking place and ambled inside to see 6 people in front of me and all of them with packages and two postal workers waiting on patrons. I took my place in line, willing to wait diligently, as were my apparent cohorts in this little adventure. Finally, a third worker yells loudly, “Anybody want something done that doesn’t involve money?†I answered back, “Do you do anything that doesn’t involve money?†That brought forth smiles and chuckles from everyone. The postal worker thought for a minute and said, “Yes I do, but it would probably offend non-Christiansâ€. Apparently, I thought, nothing that’s official business. In about 30 minutes, I had the required stamps in my pocket and am headed out the door, realizing the time spent there wasn’t so bad. I had some excellent conversation with other people in the line, and we all shared some Christmas cheer. That, plus doing something to help my wife complete her yearly task made me feel good and warm inside. Oscar Firkins said, “I was glad to get a letter instead of a Christmas card. A Christmas card is a rather innutritious thingâ€.

The leaves have been falling from our trees like crazy the past couple of weeks, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with their pace. Every few days, I’m out there with our yardvac gathering thousands and delivering them to our neighbor’s compost pile. He loves to use his yard tractor, fitted with a blade, to rotate his pile of stuff so it will decompose rapidly. Between the two of us, that pile gets constant attention. I frequently complain to myself about having to do that chore so often, but it is really good for me, prompting me to get outside and away from the computer, breathing in the fresh (cold) air, doing physical things and encouraging me to be more active. If there’s one thing I have learned in my 76 spins around the sun, it’s that to be healthy you have to be in, mostly, perpetual motion. If you sit in front of the TV (PC) for hours-on-end, you’ll end up regretting it as you get older. Of course, being active doesn’t ensure that you will be healthy as you age, but it certainly will increase the odds in your favor. I was watching the news the other night and the host said that doctors had discovered that no matter how much you exercise, or how healthy you eat, you cannot avoid dementia as you travel thru the “Golden Years†of your life. Needless to say, it was a discouraging bit of information. I choose not to believe that, maybe I’m delusional, but I see nothing positive in accepting that conclusion. Right now, I can say my ABCs backward and list, in order, all 45 presidents of the USA. When I’m no longer able to accomplish that task, then, and only then, will I be willing to accept that as being true. Frank Adams said, “There must be a day or two in a man’s life when he is the precise age for something important.†I’m gonna let my hat hang on that knob for a while 😊.

I just finished reading an article in The New Yorker titled, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds†by Elizabeth Kolbert and thought it interesting. It’s about a 15-minute read if you’re interested. My takeaway from the article is that once I make up my mind about something, it is doubtful that I’ll ever change. The problem with that is if I come to an incorrect conclusion about something, say, gun control, and I convince you of my position, and you turn around and convince someone else, all three of us are mistaken because of my baseless conclusion. Later, we find that our belief becomes stronger because there are three of us that believe. Now, if we are three mice, and I’ve convinced you there is no cat around the corner, that cat has a tasty meal headed his way. As it turns out, the only path to changing my mind is for me to do an in-depth analysis and see where I made incorrect assumptions. I’m thinking this is kinda why my wife thinks I’m hard-headed. Freud said it so well, “I have examined myself thoroughly and come to the conclusion that I don’t need to change much.â€

I bought my wife a Samsung robot vacuum cleaner for Christmas with the expectation it would help her accomplish the chore she dislikes the most. After our Christmas celebration was over, I unboxed the mighty beast and started the process of charging its battery. In a few hours it proudly announced that it was ready and willing to do our bidding. I have affectionately named the little guy “Fred.†Why I came up with that name is a good question. I guess the answer has to be that since we have named about 200 teddy bears sitting in every room in our home, various things in our yard, our vehicles, and just about everything else our wandering eyes land on, it was getting a little tiresome coming up with unique names 😊. Anyway, old Fred has come to life and is willing to do our bidding, so we give him the “go ahead†signal and off he goes, using his artificial wits to map our house and clean every darn inch of flooring. I’m telling you it’s like bringing a blind man into the house and then leaving him alone. I’ll give him credit though, he didn’t bump into much or get stuck very often. When he did get stuck, he would try valiantly to dislodge himself and if he couldn’t, he would shutdown and send a message to my smartphone pleading for help. He is vastly amusing and I chuckle at him constantly. He vacuums for about an hour or so, and then turns himself off and heads back to the charging station to reinvigorate himself. Seldom can you buy something that helps you do your daily chores and entertain you at the same time. I’m puzzled as to how you can program a device to do what he does, and he does it quite well, but if he were human our name for him would be “Stupid Fred.†Fortunately for old Fred, we have set the expectation bar really low. Joseph Farrell said, “As a man gets wiser, he expects less, and probably gets more than he expects.â€
My wife recently had an operation on her left knee. It seems she managed to damage the meniscus, a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). There are two menisci in each knee joint. They can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint. It is apparently an age-related thing, although it can happen to anyone at any age. The operation was completed in ½ hour as an outpatient and we were home an hour later. The operation is common and normally accomplished without incident, but anytime someone you love goes under the knife, you worry! I sat in the waiting room, determined not to dwell on the possibility that something could go wrong, but that fear kept creeping into my thoughts and making me very uncomfortable. I have a strong, faith- based structure in my life, and I know I should place my confidence in His hands. I was disappointed in myself for the doubts I harbored. My wife is recovering nicely, and I’m dealing with my lack of resolve. Bill Feather said, “Just as soon as we make a good resolution we get into a situation which makes its observance unbearable.†I just hope I don’t have to be perfect when, inevitably, I knock on His door, asking for entry.
I hope reading this missive was fun and the ones you love are enjoying the blessings that life bestows on us all. I look forward to 2018 and all its possibilities.