This post was originally published on the Progressive Cattleman website. Please check it out!
There is a tombstone that lies just off the edge of a small hay field on the creek bottom of my parents’ ranch. It doesn’t mark the grave of the man whose name is engraved on its face, and grass and weeds show it little mercy.
While the pink stone has rested in the field since the early 1900s, it shows very little damage from the weather. According to my dad, after the old homesteader whose name the stone bears passed away, a horse-drawn wagon was employed to carry the headstone to its final resting place. Evidently while en route, a storm came and the headstone slid off the wagon, landing face up at the bottom of a slow-sloping hill, never to be moved again.
Perhaps it seems a little morbid to start a New Year’s post talking about a tombstone. But, the story has been on my mind a lot lately. With the passing of another year comes the chance to write another chapter in the storybook of life – however long it is.
Ever since my kids were born, it seems like time flies at an unfathomable rate of speed. I often wish I could slow it down or make it stop, yet at the same time, it seems like there are days I can’t wait for bedtime or the weekend. Like the dates on that old tombstone, life is all about the time spent in that dash in between – and none of us will be here forever; the story will end for all us at some point or another. How we spend our time today will write the story we leave behind. I know that wishing my life away is not how I want to be remembered. While we can’t slow time down, we can sure fill it up doing what we love, whatever that might be.
It is easy to just let the days pass by, to be so caught up in the list of things to do that we forget to take time to appreciate the things we have. As the child of ranchers, I grew up watching my parents work themselves to the bone through the seasons, many times without pausing for a few minutes to just appreciate the gift of life they were helping to bring into the world or to enjoy the smell of the fresh cut alfalfa and grass.
I find myself going through the motions day after day of getting kids to daycare, getting myself to work, rushing through the job, just waiting for 5 o’clock, and then rushing through my evenings and silently celebrating bedtime. The realization that I have spent so much of my adult life just waiting on the weekend scares me to death, and so back to the story about the tombstone.
I would venture to guess that in the 40-some years the man whose name that piece of granite rock bears was alive, there were probably not many days he spent sitting around wishing his life away. He just lived it, and probably wasn’t too worried about a few extras pounds around his middle after the holidays.
I hope that, as you cross the threshold into the new year, many good blessings come your way. That when opportunity knocks on the door, you take the chance to try something new or chase a dream that you’ve been pondering for a spell. If you set some resolutions, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t stick to them. As long as you are happy, who cares if you have a little extra width on your hips at the end of the day? Make your story a good one – that is what that little dash in between is all about, after all. May you keep your boots sole-side down for another year!