Sunday, July 15, 2007

The American Dream

Yesterday was the monthly get-together with Melissa’s family. As we drove back through Dublin, Comanche, Blanket, etc., we got to talking about riches. It came up because of a contact I had with an old friend this past week. He is a successful trial lawyer in the Metroplex. By successful trial lawyer I mean he has reached the point that he has other people chase ambulances for him. Anyway, our discussion turned, as it usually does, to defining riches and success. My friend had recently enjoyed a very fine cabernet, a 2” thick New York Strip, chatted with a Congressman and purchased tickets (first class) for a month long vacation in Switzerland with his wife. I had milked a cow, taken care of chickens, worked on the house, enjoyed several fantastic sunsets and played with my kids. Neither of us had done all that much out of the ordinary for what we do. In some ways, what he had done was not all that out of the ordinary for what I did before I moved out here to milk a cow, build a house and get to know my kids.

My success used to depend on what the Council wanted me to get done and how well I got it done. My friend’s success depends on how well he can convince a jury that his client was wronged by their doctor/employer/contractor and they need to receive a wheelbarrow full of cash to make it all right. The trappings of that success manifests itself in jewelry, golf clubs, cars, square footage in a house or office, silk ties, fancy meals and the like. Thankfully, my tastes have always run a bit plainer than others’ might, so when we left that world behind for this one we had at least a bit of money in the bank. But still, a thick and juicy steak or burger out with the family was a part of our weekly entertainment budget. I’m not sure I can remember the last time we were all out together at a restaurant for dinner.

So, what are my riches these days? Well, as I write this Joy and Sam are playing “Go Fish” on the sofa. They are using cards that are from another game that have neither suits nor rank on them and just as soon as I am involved in watching this, the game changes to a “Star Wars” card game for which they both know the rules and have never played before this instant. My days are now made up of vignettes like this. Every afternoon Claire and I go out to bring in the milk cow’s calf, so she’ll be able to make milk for the family in time for the next morning’s milking. The calf pretty much just comes to us now. She knows me and Claire and our voices. Last Friday, Mitchell patched up the gaps in the siding with the mixture we are using before I could really get started working with him. Stephen spent about $120 of his own money to put on a fireworks show for the family on July 4th. Faith made breakfast cookies for us Friday night so we’d be able to hit the road quickly Saturday morning. Clark’s front tooth finally fell out last night. It was the middle of the night so, rather than waking us up, he put it back in his mouth and held it there until he woke up around 7. Grace goes to bed early so she can be up early. Why? Because she wants to get outside to be with the cows so that she can be THE cow person in the family. When the sun sets tonight we will see a beautiful sky full of colors because we live out in west Texas where we do not have a tree infestation problem. Dawn will be just a pretty, but without as much red as the sunset. Right now, the milk cow is busy mowing our lawn. She’ll leave behind some patties that the chickens will tear apart and the grass will be fertilized.

This is what I have and while life is not always easy out here and there are times when the whole world seems to disagree with me, I don’t want to be anyplace else.



Julie said...

I love it! Thank you for this beautiful picture of your life. You are rich.

annb said...

It's a wise person who knows the true definition of richness! I agree with you and I have my riches in my family here, too. Thanks for sharing your "secrets" of success!

Audrey said...