One of the highest compliments I ever received came at the end of a speaking engagement when an old gentleman walked up to me and said, “Son, listening to you is like a dose of good medicine.”
I suppose we all can use a dose of good medicine every once in a while.
The late Benjamin “Brown” Draper was a neighbor of mine out in the Walnut Grove Community of Trousdale County for several years. Mr. Draper was a former high school vocational agriculture teacher and superintendent of schools. He was also a real character. It seems everyone who knew him has a “Brown Draper” story. He had a boyish mischief about him and loved a practical joke.
One day he was telling me how, on some mornings, he found himself feeling too good.
“You know what I do when I’m feeling too good?” he asked, his eyes sparkling.
“I’d like to know,” I answered.
“I’ve got this bottle at the house,” he continued. “Whenever I’m feeling too good, I take a little sip and it brings me back down to earth.”
I began to get the feeling I was being had.
“You know how I know when I need a drink out of that bottle?” he went on.
“I have no idea,” I mused.
“In the morning when I’ve finished my chores at the barn I head back to the house. If I catch myself jumping the fence instead of opening and going through the gate, I know I’m feeling too good and I need a drink out of that bottle!”
I can honestly admit I have not experienced many days in which I was feeling so good that I needed corrective medicine. I do, however, believe we all experience “down” days when we could use a little lift. The blues are common to us all.
Sometimes we are “down” mentally. At other times we experience the emotional “blues.” On other occasions we find ourselves spiritually “flat.” It seems like life just has a way of knocking the breath out of us. Sometimes it happens suddenly and sometimes it happens over time.
Unfortunately, a sip out of a bottle can’t solve our problem. It might address the symptom, but it won’t solve the problem.
I have learned over the years to be on the lookout for those things that can give me a mental, emotional or spiritual lift. It has everything to do with awareness.
I received an unexpected call from a friend the other day. It gave me a needed lift. I thought of Proverbs 17:17 — “A friend loveth at all times.” How about this old axiom? “To have a friend, be a friend.” When you get the blues, call a friend. They will get a boost and you will too. Or, how about this? Do something for somebody else. It will take your mind off yourself. “Me-itis” is a terribly debilitating disease.
A few years back my youngest son, Joseph, backed me into the horse business. Before long we had horses running out our ears.
The horses opened up a new world of learning for me. The youngsters taught me a lesson or two. I’ve been kicked, bitten and knocked around a bit.
But my best teacher was a bay mare 20-plus years old. This old gal had been around. She was a classic study in wisdom and patience. She had seen it all. I wished she could talk.
She gave birth to a beautiful filly a few springs ago. The filly was the color of a whitetail deer. She was born with a little nick out of one ear. We called her “Nip.”
Paul Enoch, a veterinarian and lifelong friend, has said there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as seeing a young foal taking an early morning run.
One Christmas morning not so long ago, just after daybreak, I was running a secret Santa Claus errand. As I took the shape curve on Walnut Grove Road, to my wonder and surprise a baby burro was making a run in the frosty morning air on the John Frank Gross farm. She ran and she bucked and she kicked and she ran some more. Then she returned to her mother and made another run. It sent my spirits soaring.
Strangely, I was less than a quarter-mile from Brown Draper’s house. As I drove by his old home place, I was tempted to stop and jump the fence in his backyard.