Thursday, April 21, 2011

Still Chasing Woodpeckers

In an earlier post, I shared with all of you enraptured readers my insights regarding memories. I've decided to leave the past where it should be... in the past. I'm moving on with the visions God has given me. Life is just too short to dwell on memories, whether they're as real as the dreams we have at night or rotting away on stolen 8 millimeter films, memories are not worth brooding over. But as the late Paul Harvey would have said, "Here's the rrrrrrest of the story!"

It was during a long walk, while chasing after an elusive Pileated Woodpecker that my mind began to wander, and I resolved to live in the present. The past few days have been liberating, as God and I work together on turning the pages forever. However, the past has a way of trying to creep back in, and oftentimes right at the moment we're on the verge of breakthrough. (Warning: wandering mind is about to make a point. Don't touch that dial.) Does anyone remember the episode of "Happy Days" where Fonzie jumped a shark on his motorcyle? (Point, Mr. award-winning journalist?) Anytime a television show makes a mistake that leads to its demise, it's called, "Jumping the Shark." (And...?) So now, whenever I find myself tempted to live in the past, I'm going to call it, "Chasing Woodpeckers." (Oh, very wise. I get it. You're so creative. So brilliant!) When I'm daydreaming about yesterday and someone asks me what I'm thinking about, I can answer, "Oh, just chasing woodpeckers."

Don't steal that. I'm copyrighting this post.

At any rate, at the end of that insightful walk I browsed through a favorite antique store in town. I'm always on the lookout for unusual items that hail from the golden days of radio. Once in a while, I get lucky and pick up a small inexpensive treasure for my collection. But this time, I was almost knocked over by a vintage wooden crate in the shop's basement. Not literally, mind you. Figuratively speaking. But in very clear black lettering on both sides of the crate was printed, "Mueller Brass Company - Port Huron Michigan."

Mueller. It's where my Dad worked for 35 years. He lost a few fingers on the mill saw back in the late 60's. Shortly before he died, he nearly lost his arm on the same saw. That was the last day he worked there. Dad had a love / hate relationship with the plant, mostly hate. I know that we hated Mueller for how it affected him. They paid him squat. When the company set a new record for brass production, they rewarded all the workers with a free cup of coffee. The union was no better. Dad was in his 60's, sweating away in that God-forsaken Rod Mill 7 days a week for weeks on end with a punk foreman who wasn't even born when Dad started working there trying to tell him how to do his job.

So why in the blazes did I want that crate so badly? Because it was a connection to Dad. I imagined displaying it in my man cave with one of my old radios on top, maybe with Dad's Navy dog tags or his navy cap. What a laugh. He had a love / hate relationship with the Navy, too. The fact is, I wanted to buy it because it's exactly what Dad would have done. He would have brought home a reminder from his past, because that's where he liked to live. I believe to this day that his past is what tore him up inside and led to his death. Needless to say, I left the crate behind.

Me - 1. The past - 0.

I have resolved not to use the past to play the martyr. I won't use it as an excuse for my behavior. I won't lean on it for pity. I won't allow the enemy to throw it up in my face and accuse me. I'll forgive the dog that bites, but I won't go walking into his yard again either. I'm through chasing woodpeckers.

But wouldn't that be an awesome name for a band? (Copyright 2011)