June 16, 2010

thoughts from behind the mower

    Mowing yards?  It ain't exactly rocket science, or even medicine for that matter.  Your mind has a lot of free time to wander.  My dad, only half jokingly, says that he's not always sure if his will wander back.  The excessive Texas heat may have a bit to do with that.

     The other day, I've got the backpack blower on my back generating a hurricane of wind with about as much direction as one, too.  This ain't one of those wimpy household electric blowers either.  When this baby roars at full power, you can actually feel it pushing your torso back.  So it's rattling away on my back and the debris is going everywhere but where I want it to go.  I've got this engine vibrating my entire body and it's not doing a damned thing I want it to.  I begin to cuss this blower.  It's nozzle doesn't taper at the end so it generates all sorts of wind in all sorts of directions.  Like a chicken without its head, it's about as directionless.  And it's pissing me off.  Then, I start cussing the idiot who designed this monstrosity.  Obviously, they've never had to use their tool for an extended period of time.  I can imagine the engineer firing it up, measuring 80 mph wind and saying, "yup, that works."  And now I hate him, too.  But out of the blue, this story from one of Robert Fulghum's books comes to mind and I start chuckling to myself.  If you've never read him, I highly recommend any of his books.  He can say it much better than I so here it is:

In the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it. (Can't lay my hands on the article, but I swear I read it.) Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over. The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree. According to the villagers, it always works.

Ah, those poor nave innocents. Such quaintly charming habits of the jungle. Screaming at trees, indeed. How primitive. Too bad they don't have the advantages of modern technology and the scientific mind.

Me? I yell at my wife. And yell at the telephone and the lawn mower. And yell at the TV and the newspaper and my children. I've been known to shake my fist and yell at the sky at times.

Man next door yells at his car a lot. And this summer I heard him yell at a stepladder for most of an afternoon. We modern, urban, educated folks yell at traffic and umpires and bills and banks and machines--especially machines. Machines and relatives get most of the yelling.

Don't know what good it does. Machines and things just sit there. Even kicking doesn't always help. As for people, well, the Solomon Islanders may have a point. Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts...

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