What do you do when you find yourself living with a sense of unfinished business? I’ve read stories of folks in the midst of mid-to-late adulthood who went to college for the first time to pursue a coveted degree only because in their youth they didn’t have the resources or the opportunity.
I read somewhere that the majority of folks live with a sense of regret, do so about the things they didn’t do rather than the things they did. I can’t say that I have a frame of reference for either. Maybe it is a lack of imagination on my part, but I’ve mostly enjoyed life and have been content with the status quo. I don’t live with a sense that I’ve missed anything that really mattered.
What’s true for me is not true for my daughter. She lives with a sense of unfinished business and she’s made her bucket list and plans to check the most important missed event off that list in October 2017.
Perhaps as you read this you can hear the sound of Ol’ Blue Eyes singing: “Regrets, I’ve had a few; but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course; each carful step along the byway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way”.
The year I graduated from high school there was a popular television drama that ran for three seasons. It was entitled, “Run For Your Life”. The episode starred Ben Gazzara who played attorney Paul Bryan. Bryan’s doctor tells him that he only has a short time to live. Actually, with the prognosis that death would come in nine-to-eighteen months, Bryan opted to do all the things for which he had never made the time. Each televised episode began with the voice-over of the physician telling him he will die in no less than nine months , but in no more than eighteen months. Consequently Bryan attempted to squeeze thirty years of living into one or two years. He was a man on the move. He literally was running for his life. Much like Route 66, each episode featured the main character in a different location encountering new people and building memories.
When I think of a man on the run, I’m reminded of a story my younger brother shared in a sermon he preached at my church. Larry Dean is always entertaining and he always has a good point. When it comes to preaching, he isn’t a three-point kind of guy, but he lives with the notion that any sermon worth it’s salt has to have a point.
Disappointly, I actually don’t remember his point, but I do remember the story he shared. It was about a trapper who crossed the continent to the Pacific Ocean with Lewis and Clark. The trapper’s name was John Colter. Colter secured permission from Captain Meriwether Lewis to stay and trap beaver. Of course, Captain Lewis had previously garnered hatred by a Blackfoot Indian tribe for killing a Blackfoot warrior who was trying to steal horses. In return, the Indians hated the white men and were intent on killing as many as possible.
John Colter stayed behind knowing all of this, but the lure of trapping was paramount in his life. I’d call that “really not being smart”, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. He and another hunter named John Potts opted to take the risk. I mean after all, the best beaver streams were in the Blackfoot hunting grounds. The two set their traps at night and hid during the day. If you think they were living the good life, you could be mistaken.
Long story-short, the trapping expedition didn’t turn out like Colter and Potts planned. They found themselves in a canoe paddling up a creek and subsequently surrounded by hundreds of Indians on both banks. The Indians made signs for them to come to shore. Since they couldn’t escape, Colter turned the canoe toward shore. As they arrived at the shore, an Indian immediately took Potts’ rifle. Colter used his strength to wrestle the rifle from the Indian and returned it to Potts. Potts killed the Indian and then died with a seconds with a body full of arrows.
The Indians stripped Colter of his clothing and talked about how they would kill him. The chief decided to make a sport of it and asked Colter if he could run fast. Colter understood enough of their language and replied that he was a very slow runner. I guess when you’re facing a life and death situation, why bother to tell them you had a reputation for running really fast. It was his only chance of escape.
When my brother was sharing Colter’s story, he left few details untold. The chief gave Colter a head start as the Indians gave their war-whoop and started after him. Colter ran straight across an open plain toward the Jefferson River six miles away.
Do you remember the lyrics from the “Battle of New Orleans?” One of the stanza’s goes like this: “ Yeah they ran through the briers and they ran through the brambles And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Unhindered by clothing because his had been taken, Colter literally streaked through the cactus and ignored the fact that his feet were filled with cactus thorns. Of course when you have hundreds of Indians wanting your scalp, that adds motivation to run like the wind. The details of his survival are interesting, but you get my point. He ran for his life.
In October my daughter and son-in-law (poor guy, he doesn’t have a choice) are scheduled to run in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon. Andrea had previously trained for and planned to run in the marathon with her brother the October following Craig’s return to Texas in conjunction with his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps. The year before, Craig ran the marathon in Afghanistan.
Despite the fact that Andrea had requested leave from her employer months before to have the time away, when push came to shove, her leave had been cancelled. Consequently work won out and she had to forego the experience. It was a disappointment that fell into the category of unfinished business.
Not to be deterred, she plans to have the experience anyway. Since Craig can’t run this year, Kevin will fill his sneakers and the two of them will join thousands of others in what she hopes will be the fulfillment of a dream.
While I applaud her effort, it all sounds like a very bad dream to me. I can’t imagine walking twenty-six miles much less running. For me to do so, I’d have to be being chased by Blackfoot Indians wanting my scalp.
All My Best!