It Was Better When I Was There

Last night, driving a back road home from checking on the fields we hay (the grass high and thick, lush from the frequent rain, more than ready for mowing if only things would dry out for a spell), I came upon a truck driving slow. In the bed, a male at some indistinguishable point on the spectrum between boy and man, his right hand clenched around the collar of a Holstein calf. The calf seemed calm enough and remarkably steady on his feet, and the young man/old boy looked to be enjoying himself, as one would under such circumstances: A warm evening, the scents and colors of the landscape emboldened by the recent showers, the joy inherent to riding in an open pickup truck bed, and surely on some level whether conscious or not, the companionship of the animal.


Then the young man/old boy turned his head, and the wind kicked his baseball cap into the air. It landed on the shoulder of the road, and I pulled over to retrieve it, and I could see him giving me a thumbs up with his non-calf-holding hand. Then I sped to catch the truck, which eventually pulled to the side of the road. “It’s a nice hat,” I said. “Would’ve been a shame to lose it.” He chuckled and thanked me, and they waved me past, which I was sort of sorry for, because soon the truck would be far behind me and what I’ve found is that life is mostly a series of moments in which nothing very much is happening, and so often the things that occupy our thoughts and fears and longings and even joys are not the things directly before us, but things that live in some unrealized future. And therefore do not live at all.


But on this evening, in this moment, on this little-traveled dirt road in Caledonia County, Vermont, something was happening. It’d be gone soon, swept into my rearview mirror and then my past, something I’ll remember for a while, but probably not for long. Which is ok, really: It was better when I was there.

21 thoughts on “It Was Better When I Was There”

  1. See that’s why I asked you about meditation practice. Because it isn’t about sitting in the lotus position. It’s about being present for life as it happens. You seem to understand that through some happy intuition.

  2. Again and again Ben you illuminate how very rich are the small “everyday happenings” of our lives. (Do not just look . . but SEE; do not just listen . . but HEAR; do not just touch . . but FEEL.) THANK YOU !

  3. Please don’t ever stop writing – I enjoy all your posts & can relate to so many. You are truly a gifted writer and a grand observer of life. Thank you….

    Sent from Sarah’s iPad


  4. I’ve always thought the Golden Rule pretty much summed up all one needs to be concerned with in life. Writings like this and others I’ve experienced lately have encouraged me to add “Be Aware” to that list. Wish my younger self who was so concerned with doing something Important with a capital “I” had spent more time appreciating this philosophy. Good thing my boys notice everything around them which seems to me to be the basis of all learning. Thanks again for a wonderful post which got me thinking – as they all do. Peace!

  5. For me at least, your best post yet Ben, You say so much and write so little, but the reader then fills in the blanks. Thank you.

  6. Love thinking about the many serendipitous events that need to take place for moments like this to happen. Life is good like that. Sweet tale, Ben.

  7. To clarify Hyssop, I am unable to fill in all the details as they relate to the story, but when I say “fill in the blanks” I reminisce about similar events/feelings in my own life, smile, frown or chuckle and then keep reading. Case in point, Ben’s above chance road events immediately bolted me to when once on a 4 lane interstate I saw in the Corolla in front of me the silhouette of fig leaves in the back seat. Gunning the motor to pull up alongside, I yelled through 70mph (err, 64 mph officer) winds, ” Hey man, nice fig tree!” Somewhere in my head a free flowing REO Speedwagon tune was suddenly blaring. To which the chef like forearm muscled (you know-bony wrists but bulky just in front of the elbow) tattooed man blared back, “This is nothing, you should see my Violet Bordeaux!” I gave an old man gruff head nod in kindred gardener spirit as in this part of our state, black figs are tough to overwinter.

    Ben may not have meant to trigger this highway bromance. Hell, he probably hates figs. But I laughed at the memory. I was thankful for that living in the moment. And heck, I probably had even a tad more empathy for Ben because of it. Too bad I lack his carpentry hutzpah. GT.

  8. Yes, Grantorino, you are right, Ben’s writing sure does evoke reminiscing….

    Poetry, huh, Ben? Maybe that’s part of the space between. Thanks, nice to hear – thought it was buried with last winters snow drifts, maybe pushing back up with this lazy summer’s wild flowers. You do have a way of stirring people’s innards in their sleepy latent places it seems.

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