Job declared, “Man who is born of woman is a few days and full of trouble.”
More than 3,000 years later, American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
M. Scott Peck in his modern masterpiece, “The Road Less Traveled,” put it even more succinctly. He wrote, “Life is difficult.”
Chief Ten Bears in the movie, “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” referred to our time here as “the struggle of life.”
An old hymn from my childhood echoes these words … “It’s not an easy road.”
Any way you slice it, we all encounter bumps in the road of life. Some of those bumps are no more than minor inconveniences and aggravations. Others are nothing short of devastating. Everyone experiences disappointments of one degree or another.
At the ending of the movie, “Old Yeller,” the father — played by Fess Parker — shares some interesting words with his son, Travis, saying, “Now and then, for no good reason a man can figure out, life will haul off and knock him flat — slam him agin the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busting. But it’s not all like that. Some of it is mighty fine. You can’t afford to waste the good part frettin’ about the bad. That makes it all bad. But I’ll tell you a trick that’s sometimes a big help. You start lookin’ around for something good to take the place of the bad. As a general rule, you can find it.”
I must admit. It takes a lot to get me down. I am, by nature and by training, an eternal optimist. But sometimes I get that for which Memphis, is famous …the blues.
I can’t fully explain it, but every now and then, things just seem to pile up on me, and I feel overwhelmed by life. Such was the case not so long ago.
After a trying weekend, I found myself on Sunday evening wondering how in the world I could take on Monday. It was going to be a demanding day, and I was about spent before it even arrived.
Late Sunday night, I drifted off into a restless sleep.
The next morning, force of habit pulled me out of bed. To put it mildly, I was not feeling one bit less discombobulated. I did manage to pull the things together that I would need for the coming day.
Just after daylight, I stepped out into the morning air. The birds, which sing just at the breaking of dawn, were already gone. It was pleasantly cool and unusually quiet. I hesitated for a bit to drink in the moment. Then, I heard him.
No further away than the edge of my yard, but well out of sight, his song rang out, sharply and distinctly, bobwhite.
It was music to my ears. Only a country boy or girl would know the call of a bobwhite quail.
“Well, good morning, Mr. Robert White quail,” I said out loud (and halfway to myself.)
He called out again, “Bobwhite.”
A third time, he trumpeted, “Bobwhite.”
He had found a familiar rhythm of which I have become so fond over the years.
I paused for a few minutes to feel grateful for growing up in rural America … for knowing about bobwhite quails … and robins … and mockingbirds … and woodpeckers … and red-winged blackbirds.
Mr. bobwhite called out a dozen times or more before I was on my way.
I was feeling better already.
Strangely, the next thing I noticed was the homes of two of my neighbors.
Sitting side by side, they were beautifully landscaped, the grass newly mowed. I can’t explain it, but the most pleasant feeling came over me as I thought about my neighbors.
Next, I came upon a little hayfield. No more than two acres, it is where spotted goats can usually be seen grazing. But it had been cut for hay in late summer. And on this morning, it was dotted with square bales of hay. Five perfectly-straight rows, with no more than 10 bales in each row, lay neatly in this little field. It spoke to me of order. Suddenly, the whole world made more sense. I felt energized. And I found myself getting back my second wind.
We all can use some inspiration now and then. I have always contended that you can find it if you look for it. But there is more to it than that.
I would not have thought of a bobwhite quail, or a neighbor’s yard or a little field of hay. There was something very deep going on here.
Sometimes, I pray for ears that can hear, eyes that can see, and a heart of deeper understanding.
Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.