March 2, 2013


In March, 1991, I wrote a "Wild Trails & Tall Tales" column with this lead: "My daddy's in Saudi 'Rabia fightin' the bad guy." That lead came from a three-year-old grandson who stood in front of my office chair and peered up with wide and guileless blue eyes to make such a somber statement about his father, Jane's and my son.

Our grandson's father returned from Saudi 'Rabia and his fight with the bad guy. The problem was the bell rang on that fight before it was over. During its intermission, seconds toweled the combatants while awaiting the next round. Then, when round two clanged other contestents clambered into the ring and a free-for-all erupted without clear distinctions about who belonged to which tag-team.

That three-year-old grandson grew into a strapping, fine
looking young lad on the threshold of manhood. His voice changed so much that I didn't recognize him on the telephone. When round two began with the "bad guys," he was still too young to get involved, and his father was too old.

Without clear and present risk to immediate family members, Jane and I did not feel so directly affected by resulting events--but we nevertheless slept uneasily. Though the first bad guy vanished early in the second go-'round, it soon turned clear there were plenty more bad guys where that one came from. And that by the time our grandson reached an age to shoulder a weapon for his country there will be another. And another. And another. That's why we must strike fast.

No, I'm not talking about striking fast as a nation--I'm talking about striking fast as a family. Though the boy lives 1,800 miles away, we must arrange wilderness adventures, Glacier Park hikes, whitewater floats, mountaintop highs. We must do these things with the lad while we still can. We must do them before the Saddam Husseins, or the scum sucking bin Ladens of the world, or more generations of terrorists and terrorizing dictators raise their pointed and ugly heads.

What is said about us as a family should also be said about us as individuals. Too often we postpone allotting time to pursue our dreams while being overwhelmed by immediacy and complacency. Too often we're content in the belief that we'll do those things we wish to do "tomorrow" or "next year" or "the day after retirement."

These are especially sad stories. They're so very sad because "tomorrow" or "next year" or "the day after retirement" never comes. They're sad because life and youth and the spirit of adventure passed by while we waited for our stars to align exactly the way we wished.

The old adage about there being "no fool like an old fool" is incorrect. By the time one reaches advanced age, one is no longer foolish, but one is also no longer able. Better, instead, to say there's "no fool like a young fool." Then the adage becomes one with a better ring of truth because the young fool thinks he has an inside track on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to forever.

Lord God, if there's anything age teaches you, it's that WHOOPS! The Good Lord made no special exceptions for us, after all.

Special exceptions come only to those who make them themselves.



Next week? Another walk on the wild side.


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