Passing over Life's Rumble Strips

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), January 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Passing over Life's Rumble Strips


Byline: The Register-Guard

Friday marked what would have been Steve Prefontaine's 62nd birthday.

I remember watching his final race and sensing the cool confidence that nobody could beat him, nothing could stop him.

Something did. Death.

Friday also marked the last day for a friend and colleague of mine as a columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a position he'd held for 20 years.

I remember meeting Dave Lieber 10 years ago at a National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in Arizona. I sensed that he was America's quintessential columnist: likable, passionate and hard-driving. Nothing could stop him.

Something did. A layoff.

So excuse me if I get all sentimental on you, but such events have jolted me with a sense of urgency.

They sound and feel like when your car strays onto one of those roadsi de rumble strips: warnings that you need to pay more attention to where you are - and who you're with.

Time passes. The world changes. The unexpected happens.

And for me, the lesson seems to be: Don't let things go unsaid.

But too often, I do. I get so wrapped up about getting where I need to be that I overlook where I am and where I've been.

I too often miss the observation that my mother - at 85, still traipsing off to the coast for contemplative stays - makes about appreciating what we have.

"We can enjoy an event in three ways," she said. "While looking forward to it, while we're in it and while we look back on it."

I too often miss the wisdom from author Ann Voskamp, in her book "One Thousand Gifts," about living each day with thankfulness.

Thankfulness, she says, leaves no room for bitterness.

Ah, but you can't wait for the muse, she warns. You have to be proactive. Have to think it, say it, claim it - before it's too late.

"Life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life, unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time," writes the Canadian author, who lives on a farm and is the mother of six.

So today - while still "in my event" - I pull out my hammer and begin: With no other agenda, I say thanks, readers, for meeting me in this time and space - if I can be so presumptuous - three times a week.

Too often, we wait to tell people we care about them only at a memorial service. Or at a retirement party.

I'm not waiting.

Thanks for column ideas, observations, Q&A suggestions, perspective, occasional praise and even criticism - when offered with good intentions and a name.

(But please, don't get me going on people who begin their rants with, "Didn't you take freshman English?" Yes, and I still screwed up!)

Thanks for taking time to reply to my "reader response" columns. …

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