Tuesday, October 12
I have decided to abandon my nighttime travels and return to a more sane mode of walking - during the daylight! The 45.3 miles traveled yesterday is not a feat to repeat and I will willingly let it stand as my personal record. I now feel more comfortable walking during the day for two reasons: one - this section of the road, recently paved, now includes a bike lane, and two - some of the heavier traffic has been siphoned away by several intersecting arteries - Interstate 35, Highway 65, and Highway 63. Hopefully this will be prove to be a wise choice.
I awoke at 7:30 quite tired and decided I was in no hurry to get my day underway. While sitting in the cool sunshine enjoying my coffee an elderly man on a small farm tractor came through the park to grade its gravel roadway. I waved hello and he was only too glad to turn off his engine and talk. I mention this because he and his good friend, as a mutual project, had built the campground many years ago. In addition, they had created an adjoining nature preserve trying to replicate the native grasses and other plant life as it had been before the prairie was “plowed under.” He was naturally proud of what they had accomplished and recognizing me as a kindred spirit - wished to share what they had done. His friend had since died and the man's eyes welled as he told of their friendship. We talked together about the importance of leaving legacies and I assured him that his friend had done just that - for though he was no longer alive the contributions he made live on as campers enjoy the lovely grounds and school children visit the preserve on a regular basis. Isn’t that what we all want in the end? To leave something behind - to make a difference in this life?
As a teacher I remember a badminton post we used yearly and on it’s wood in bold lettering were the words, “I was here.” It was written by a student many years ago and I always found it a bit haunting wondering who had written it and of the significance of that simple message. In a way, those words written by a child speak for all - the young and old alike. This is why gravestones are made from granite - for most of us wish to be remembered and to have others know that we existed. Benjamin Franklin advised people, “If you wish to be remembered, “Do something worth writing about or write something worth reading about.”
Most do not rise to that level but it is not necessary that we do. In my opinion, it is the many small things we do on a daily basis that make the greatest differences. Most contributions are unheralded and it is enough to know in our hearts that we have done them. So like the man and his friend - do something - make a difference - contribute.
We finally parted with well wishes and as I entered a new and beautiful day, I strolled though his preserve with a deep appreciation for what he and his friend had done. Then, heading out to the highway I remembered a saying, “ Plant trees knowing others will sit in their shade.”