Readers of my column last week, as well as anyone who has seen me and my sunburned face and bald spot over the past 24 hours, are well aware that a good, solid chunk of my weekend was spent riding and pushing lawn mowers. That is fine with me because mowing is always a welcomed reprieve from the time I have to spend staring at computer screens. I can switch on my mental autopilot and let my mind wander, except for when I need to call on concentration to pull off a mower stunt for the amusement of my spectators—our dog and cats who keep an eye on me until boredom shoos them away.
Sunday, I had moved onto the front yard, and was rounding the home stretch of the job when I felt an odd vibration and heard a strange squeal. I was decelerating and looking around to diagnose the problem, when THUMP!—the front wheel popped off of the axle of the mower and the orange machine and I plopped down where we sat. I sat there in a state of suspended animation as I watched the escaped wheel roll onward across the yard, past the mailbox and onto the road. It kept right on rolling until inertia (I’m getting scientific this week) finally lost the battle and the wheel fell onto its side in the road.
There was something oddly amusing about watching that wheel roll off into the sunset (well, actually only about thirty feet or so on the road in front of our house) on its own accord until it stopped. I thought about it as I gathered up the washers and the cap that had popped off and reassembled everything nice and tightly so that I could finish the job.
That wheel rolling happily along was very metaphorical for our lives sometimes, and how we all have a tendency to keep doing what we are doing despite events going on around us suggesting a change in course or plan. Reversing momentum and course usually takes effort that sometimes I just don’t want to put in—even if I know that momentum is moving me in a direction other than forward.
So many times, we find that the aspects of our lives with the hardest momentum to reverse or stop, are the ones that are carrying us in the wrong direction. How is that for irony? It is the old “path of least resistance” scenario, where it is more difficult and expensive to eat healthy than it is to live on fast and junk food that is always readily available, and it takes much more effort to maintain a proper exercise schedule than it does to plop down in front of a television for hours on end and so on.
When I was the editor of my former newspaper, we composed each week’s issue on Tuesday so that we could print Tuesday night and distribute on Wednesday. Since the lion’s share of news came in on Monday, I would have to write most of my stories on Monday nights, often times into early Tuesday morning. For months after I left that position and moved, I found myself having difficulty winding myself down and going to bed at a reasonable hour on Monday nights because I just could not make myself fall asleep before the morning hours of Tuesday. The machine had stopped, but this wheel kept right on a’rolling.
Talk about a creature of habit, which is what we all are to various degrees. The object is to try to maintain as many good and healthy habits as possible, and not let the inertia—that momentum—become too powerful to reverse when one of those habits turns bad or stops. Or the hardware fails, and there you sit in the sun.
Keep it positive and let the good times roll!