Over the weekend I mowed my lawn. It had been over two weeks since I started that project because shortly after I did I accidentally mowed over my dog Sam’s 40-foot tie out cable. The cable became immediately and tightly wound around all three of the mower’s blades.
Yeah, I once again did The Stupid. I’m not new to The Stupid. I’ve visited it often through the years. We all do – at some point. Some of us more frequently than others, but who among us hasn’t found themselves scratching their head, gazing into their life rearview mirror, wondering how such a good idea could go so wrong so quickly?
There was the time I got my truck stuck up to its hubs in the backyard. And about that, allow me to share a bit of my hard-earned wisdom with you. When your tires are mired in mud, continuing to push the accelerator to the floor seldom works as well as you think it might.
Lesson: Forcing your will, on anything, especially mud, rarely works to your advantage.
There was also that incident when my chain saw became almost permanently wedged in the trunk of a fallen locust tree.
Lesson: Cursing will not speed up the solution to any perceived problem, although it might help you feel slightly superior — momentarily.
At least until you realize you are still stuck, the chain saw has not wiggled an inch, or that cussing does not repair the gouge in the floor caused by thinking, “This file cabinet won’t scratch the floor if I only move it a few inches.”
I suppose I could blame my latest Stupid adventure to having purchased a dog tie out that was covered in green plastic. Putting a green tie out in the yard. What was I thinking? Maybe I could hold accountable my ability to become lost in a semi-meditative state while driving my lawn tractor around and around my yard. But that only means I was operating heavy equipment without paying much attention to what I was doing.
That attention was certainly focused the instant I drove over that cable. As I heard the blades under the mower deck come to a screeching halt, I immediately knew what I had done. There was no doubt — I had done The Stupid.
When you find yourself in that place of wondering what you were thinking, or if you had been thinking at all, you hope getting out of The Stupid will be easier than the situation may initially indicate. You hope it will be a simple task to drive out of the eight-inch deep mud ruts, or to glue the yard light back together after testing, by twisting it, to see if its frame is metal or plastic and discovering it is not only plastic, but very old, brittle plastic that is now in two pieces – one in each hand.
But it is rare there is a quick and easy recovery from The Stupid.
This was certainly the case with the dog tie-out and my mower blades. Over the course of several days of working on it every spare minute I had the patience to do so, I was able to get most of the cable unwrapped from around the blades. But parts of the last three feet or so were seriously wedged into the casing of the blade mounting and would not budge, no matter how much I tugged, wrestled, twisted, cursed, whined, hoped, prayed, or, despite my determination not to, cried.
After exhausting all of those approaches, I finally called my neighbor, Ron, who had helped me free my car from a snow filled ditch my first winter back on the farm.
Lesson: Believing that if you back up fast enough you can drive through a drift as high as your car window can mean leaving your car in said drift until spring or until a kind neighbor drives by with a chain to pull you out.
As Ron was gathering up his chain, and I was profusely expressing my gratitude and appreciation, that winter day he told me that if I ever needed help to call him. “Really. Anything. Just call,” he said as he got back in his truck. As I dialed his phone number, I was hoping he had meant that. Fortunately he had and Ron showed up quickly, with appropriate tools, and had the last pieces of cable loosened in no time.
I had considered calling Ron sooner, but I come from a long line of stubborn people and was certain I could get myself out of this without anyone’s help. I was strong and independent. I could do it. At least that’s what I thought until another moral of this story surfaced.
Lesson: On the other side of the “stubborn” coin is “humility.”
It was humbling to have to call Ron to ask for help, but his readiness to do so and his assurance that “we all make mistakes” really took any negative bite out of it. In fact, Ron hung around for awhile and we had a nice chat before he headed back home. I appreciated that this had turned into an opportunity to get to know him a little better.
People often comment about how isolated I am out here, or how they could never live in a small community “because everyone knows everyone’s business. And to an extent that’s true, but it can also be necessary. We are isolated when we live in the country, and indeed there is often the feeling that people know a lot about each other’s business. But those two things are connected. Because we live rather secluded from each other it’s good to know what’s going on with those around us. As we drive by we look at each other’s houses and property but that really isn’t because we’re nosey. But rather we’re making sure everything and everyone is okay. If we see smoke coming from some place other than a chimney or burn pile, we stop. If it appears someone is having trouble, we pull in and offer assistance. And if there’s a strange car in the driveway we slow down and make sure whomever it belongs to knows they have been noticed and a note of their presence has been made.
Lesson: We may be isolated, but we aren’t insular, and we take the axiom “we look out for each other” seriously.
That’s why the most important thing I learned from this last run-in with The Stupid ended up making me feel much smarter.
Lesson: It may be difficult for us to ask for help, but we can all use a little of it now and then.
And when you do need it, it sure is comforting to know you have good neighbors who will show up and free your mower blades — and you from The Stupid.