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Thread: Life is messy - Jan 17 column

  1. #1

    Life is messy - Jan 17 column

    I was sitting out in the yard a few days before Christmas thinking. I had my face in the sun enjoying the warmth of an unusually pleasant December day as a cool wind tossed orange and red leaves into my lap. Until that point the Bradford Pear trees had managed to hold on to their fiery foliage.

    As I looked around I noticed the entire yard was speckled with yellow and crimson, rolling confetti that Mother Nature celebrates with each fall and on into winter. I started smiling as I sat there wondering why some people try raking these things into piles - talk about an exercise in futility.

    My grandmother use to rake them up. She'd get us kids to pack them in trash cans so she could burn them.

    It was a wonderful smell - that blend of wet leaves and oak branches. A smoky concoction we stirred and packed with the rake. She liked having her yard just so. No clutter or mess. She had a small yard though and that kind of micro management was possible.

    Then the neighbor's leaves would blow into her yard the following week. You don't own leaves; you have them on borrowed time.

    The way I see it - today they're in my yard; tomorrow they'll be at another house down the street.

    Life isn't something as orderly as we expect it to be, life is messy. Life is unpredictable and haphazard. The best things in life are that way and we shouldn't try changing them.

    Did you make any New Year's resolutions? Well, add this one: I promise myself to enjoy the messy things in life.

    I won't get embarrassed when cheese is streaming from my pizza to my mouth, or as I slurp up the longest spaghetti noodles or as my burrito squirts out the opposite end as I eat it. These are natural occurrences of life.

    Ever tried eating corn on the cob? First, rub it down in butter and then salt the daylights out of it - then gnaw away, twirl it as you gnaw. Before you know it, it's on your fingers, your face, stuck all in your teeth, but there's nothing like it.

    Barbecue ribs are the same way. Tacos, cotton candy, chili dogs and cheesy fries even. Kissing and sex in general can be messy for goodness sake - one big, fat mess.

    Still, there is some of my grandmother in me. As I sat there, with the leaves raining around me, I noticed how nice and neat the mulch was in my flower beds. I'm not a neat freak, but I like things in their place.

    Years before I had two Great Danes who regularly rearranged that mulch. They fashioned pillows out of it and comfortable beds.

    The mulch was never where it was intended. It wasn't around the shrub, it was around the Danes.

    They were wonderful dogs, good friends and I miss them dearly, but they tend to dig. Not little mole holes but bunker-size pits you could toss a hot tub in.

    They were affectionate and always ready to plant a wet kiss on you and show you how many pieces they could turn the newspaper into. Yes, they were messy, but we rode it out. I miss their dirty brown noses and waking to see where the newest moat was dug.

    Children are messy. I won't even go there with that. If you've ever changed a diaper then you know.

    If you like to fish then you know how messy that is. Stinky too. Four wheeling is fun, but it's even more fun when there is mud involved. Yes, from the time we are children and stomp our first puddle, we know the inner joys of being messy - from forming mud cakes to icing real cakes you have to break some eggs to get to that kind of inner nirvana.

    It comes natural to children and dogs. The older we get the more opposed we become to messiness. You have to go against what your mother has barked into your ears for decades - you have to live a little - and yes, that requires a mess most of the time.

    Now I'm not giving you a license to live like a pig. Your clothes would certainly be better off hanging in the closet than lying on the floor.

    Fresh sheets on a bed are nice as well as dishes you can't flake crust off of. Some things require us to use our brain for our own good.

    I guess if I've got a point to all of this it would be that sometimes you have to let go a little bit. We all try so hard to stay in control of life. That's all well and good but at times lighten up.

    Cut yourself some slack. Take a deep breath; sip some wine, just let life happen. So what, you'll have a greasy chin, sticky fingers and you'll need to floss but living requires it sometimes. Let the leaves fall where they may. Sit back and take it in.

    So, the next time you're on a first date and you pass on a plate of ribs simply because you don't want the mess, remember you're cheating yourself out of living. At some point that person sitting across from you will see you at your worst.

    Go ahead; get it out of the way. The clock is ticking on how long you're here on this messy planet. Waiting to live or living only to impress someone with your cleanliness is a weak choice in a world full of incredible choices.

    Indulge in your playful nature. If it gets messy every now and then, so what? That's what a bath tub is for.

    Rusty Reeves is the author of "Velvet Sky" and "Revealing the Covenant." He is currently writing "The Lightning Tree" that will be released in 2004. He lives in Madison and can be reached by e-mail at

  2. #2

    excellent column. speaking of messy, how come there is an "n" in column? there is an attachment to one of my posts in caregiving under the thread for "the feeling i just can't stand this anymore." it is a column i wrote for our local newspaper.

    keep it up man, i love your prose.


  3. #3
    John - LOL - 'why is there an 'n' in 'column'? Because the English language is FUBAH!!!!

    Rusty - great piece of writing!

    Tough times don't last - tough people do.

  4. #4
    Banned Faye's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Beautiful writing!
    I enjoyed reading your column very much. Thank you for posting.

  5. #5

    Thank you, too!

    From a fellow writer that means a lot!

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