Who Needs Wings

After three days of early mornings, late nights, hard work, heavy lifting, no room for relaxing or deep breathing, I awoke early this morning and decided to sleep in. Five-thirty. So I made coffee with no gumption to do anything else. By mid-morning, I realized the most exerting and exciting thing I had accomplished was taking out the trash and making a second pot of coffee.

Stephen Mansfield suggested we ask staff members or friends (who can be trusted with a sharp object) to give us some insight on us to help us become better peers, leaders, family, friends:

What is my greatest weakness?

If you could remove one habit or tendency of mine in order to help me lead better, what would it be?

What is most off-putting about me?

What about me is most likely to cause me to fail?

What is something I like about myself that isn’t serving me well as a leader?

Before I put myself in that probable prospect for pain, I thought I should go onto the porch where the warm sun is and read for a while. Fortify myself. A perfect book for a day like today is Population: 485 by Michael Perry. Perry lives in Wisconsin, but he writes in a specific style by adding a comma to the end of each story as he thinks, and sometimes says, “That reminds me of….”

In one chapter, Michael Perry takes us with him on his jogging route and tells the stories of each house and/or people who live there. That’s when I met Herbie Gravunder.

“Herbie was stone deaf. A result, ironically or not, of the years he spent running a rock crusher for the county. And (his cousin) Delmer says in the old days they always pulled the mufflers off their tractors, figuring the louder the engine the more power it had. .

Herbie always had little tufts of cotton sticking in his ears, but then so did most of the old farmers I remember from my childhood. Anyway, what with the deafness, and the cotton, and the flannel earflapper cap he wore most of the time, Herbie lived in a muffled world.”

Herbie was a heartfelt cusser, a hard, hard worker and given to his own imagination for adventure. He bought a hovercraft that wouldn’t hover and a plane that wouldn’t fly.

I got sidetracked by wondering how Herbie and Delmar would deal with Stephen Mansfield’s list of questions. I also wondered what my siblings would answer if I asked them, or my high school friends? Or parishioners. A couple years ago, I saw a parishioner down town. I was wearing grubbies. He said it was the first time he had seen me not wearing a suit. I like suits, but I wear/wore them such a small percentage of time. Perception can be based on a very small sliver of information.

“The truth is, when I head out to run the loop these days, I feel better when I jog past Herbie’s place. Life can’t always counted off or neatly arranged.”

Michael Perry and his brother bought Herbie’s hovercraft at his farm auction. They rebuilt it and invited friends to experience the re-launch. “The deafening, dusty hoo-rah…was:

“…a celebration drawing on the legacy of a man who never let a lack of wings keep him from flying.”

Want to go with me to a farm auction?

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Population: 485, Michael Perry, Harper Perennial, Copyright 2002

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