October 31, 2011 § 5 Comments
Three days away, and I dropped back into my life, grateful for all its odd little concerns and pleasures.
I was hardly off the plane before being presented with the first: Would our 22-year old, $1200 Chevy, which has of late exhibited a stubborn recalcitrance when the key is turned, even start? Or would I be stranded at the Burlington airport, a cruelty made all the more acute by the fact that I’d just spent a full 12-hours in either car, airport, or airplane, half-stranded by the big October snowstorm?
The truck was in a jolly mood, firing with nary a hitch to fill the parking garage with its 80′s-era rumble, and I realized the unique joy of the freedom afforded by an unexpectedly cooperative vehicle. Suddenly heady with the realization that I would in fact see my family in little more than an hour, I basked in a surge of delight, pondering the truth that the pleasure of a running rig is best realized with the threat of it not running is most acute. Not exactly a revelation, I know, and one that can be extended to pretty much every facet of life. Health is not appreciated until we are unhealthy, money until we are poor, friends until we are friendless.
Still, as I motored down Interstate 89, pushing the ol’ beast to its top speed of 68 mph, I could not help but consider how many of my most-savored moments are preceded by hardships, albeit mostly small (had I been stranded by my two tons of cold steel and rubber, how tragic would it really have been? The answer, of course, is not very). The food we grow, and effort put forth. The firewood we cut, split, and stack each year. The sap hauled bucket-by-bucket, to be boiled for hours down to the sweet distillation of our efforts.
And then the further irony (if that’s the right word), which is the creeping recognition that because it is the so-called hardships making the pleasures that much more acute, the hardships aren’t actually hardships at all. They are part and parcel of the reward, because without them, there is no reward.
This is difficult to explain and I fear I am not doing it well. So I’ll conclude with this: I’m grateful my truck started. But in no small way, I’m equally grateful that it might not have.