Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mile 773: "Boots and Faded Jeans" State of Mind

A relaxing Saturday morning called for fresh-ground coffee and breakfast tacos from the little taqueria around the corner. The four of us eventually made our way into the kitchen to partake of a rare weekend treat. Soft music. Good salsa. Comfortable chairs.

Through the blinds shone a beautiful clear sky; a soft steel breeze made the trees dance against the blue background .

After going upstairs to clean the shower and then clean me, I put on my boots and faded jeans and grabbed my helmet. (I also put on my shirt and colors, just so you don't get the image of me riding down the highway without a shirt on.)

I cut my way through the perfect morning air to run down to the hospital to see a friend. I pulled into my usual parking spot at Methodist--(free motorcycle parking)--turned off the bike, threw the kickstand down, hopped off, and walked inside.

I felt bad for the nurse in the elevator who looked a little nervous. I assured her with a smile and a "Good morning," which seemed to calm her. When I got to my friend's room, there was no answer at the door. I asked a nurse to go in and check on him, and found out that he was in the shower. No worries. I'll just go park myself in the waiting room for a few minutes and take advantage of a quiet moment.


My desire for a pocket of tranquility was overrulled by a high school girl watching TV and talking to the screen the whole time. Quoting lines, laughing, and telling the characters what to do. Stuff like that used to irritate me, especially on the days when I was keeping up with the Joneses, during the "four-car garage and we're still building on" days. (Never really had a four-car garage, mind you... just quoting a song.)

But I woke up one morning almost ten years ago and realized that I was propping up a lifestyle that I no longer believed in. From what I hear, though, that happens to a lot of us during that final transition into adulthood where the idealism of your youth hits a brick wall. It is a jarring time, but it doesn't have to be debilitating. In fact, it can give you life.

So in an effort to simplify, I gave up the coat and tie that was choking me in exchange for boots and faded jeans.

I decided that if my work was anything other than building up other people and focusing on what was good and noble, I would outright reject it. Then I realized that such a value was not just about work, it was all of life. If I was visiting a friend in the hospital, the trappings of keeping up with the Joneses would have to wait. Just sit and love and be. Just be there.

That doesn't go over well with the people who want you to be the poster child for the institution. If you decide to move to Luckenbach, Texas, know that it comes with a price. (My wife, by the way, calls it "retiring in your mind." She also says that you shouldn't let people "should on you." So there's two morsels of wisdom from her to put in your pocket.)

And if you have to be stuck for a few minutes in a waiting room with a teen girl who's a little off the chain, just laugh with her. Because no matter how we dress it up and polish the world, it's all just boots and faded jeans.

Or at least it should be.

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