Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Keeping On

"Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed."
-Robert Cavett

My surrogate grandmother's tales are meritorious, indeed. She tells of some friends of hers from long ago, a wonderful family who on one occasion went for a jaunt in their car.
By the time the darkness fell upon them they were quite ready to go home.
They drove for some time before it became all too clear that they were not reaching their destination as they should have been.
One of the children happened to muse out loud that she was certain they had passed that particular spot shortly before and was it not, perhaps, taking them too long to reach home?
"Don't be silly," urged the father, who was driving them all. "If this road keeps on keepin' on, we'll be home before midnight."
The mother admitted that the road appeared to be of very fine quality and it was a pleasant trip.
Another child suggested some time later that he was positive he had seen that landmark earlier.
Again the father was cross and dismissed the notion. He deemed the road to be of very fine quality, uniquely so.
"If this road keeps on keepin' on," he said, "we'll be home before midnight."
On they went on this excellent road that somehow seemed not to be taking them home.
Another youngster announced she had seen that same fence a little earlier.
The father was stubborn and he was not a bit pleased.
"This road is taking us home," he admonished. "It sure is a great road. In fact, if this road keeps on keepin' on, we'll be home before midnight."
A couple of hours passed by in this manner. The father would not relent, not even when his wife began to have her doubts.
"You know," she said thoughtfully, "I wonder. I think we might have passed this way before."
The father was livid. "Don't you all worry now," he said. "I'm tellin' you, if this road-"
He was furiously drowned out by the chorus of his entire family shouting at him:
They were all growing impatient. Finally, at last, the father stopped the car, if only to prove that his whole clan was wrong. He stepped determinedly out of the vehicle and at that pivotal moment understood that they had been exhaustively circling a race track for the duration of the evening.

I am fond of this high-spirited yarn. Particularly, though, I consider it eminently suitable for relating in the earliest days of January when most of us are, like it or not, on a veritable racetrack to nowhere and filled with a vague desire to break the cycle. Round and round and on and on we go until another year passes and, all too often, nothing changes except our age and a slightly diminished number of possibilities. We meet the same landmarks as we hurry by: birthdays, change of season and deadlines.
Let us abandon the never-ending road: one way or another, the cycle can be broken if one sets a mind to it and sets an achievable, measurable goal.

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