I am at my friend’s house, watching the ballgame. Dogs everywhere.
Otis, our new three-month-old Labrador is at my feet. He looks like a Holstein cow, only smaller, with considerably more stink.
The ballgame plays. And I am looking at a pond behind my friend’s house. There are lillies on the water, acres of them. Water lilies. The the sound of insects is louder than screaming baseball fans on television.
The crowd goes wild. I go wild. My friend goes wild. Otis pees. And it’s time for another beer.
My friend’s wife makes soup for supper. And biscuits. Hot, buttery catheads. And we are sitting together, eating, talking, almost like family.
We are talking about everything and nothing. And I’m glad. No, not just glad. I’m glad to be here. Right now.
You might not care about this, but for my whole life, I wanted to be something else. Namely, a musician. I wanted to sing songs in important places. But I wasn’t good enough. A man has to accept when he’s not good enough.
I had a lot of ideas for my own life. The list goes on and on, and it embarrasses me to talk about. Some ambitions were more idiotic than others.
I wanted to work in radio, for instance. My aunt always told me I had a face that was made for radio.
A man at a country music station auditioned me. He liked my voice and he let me read a few ads over the air.
The night before my artistic debut, I memorized the ads I’d been given. The next morning, I announced them over the air, using a radio announcer’s over-excited voice.
Here’s an ad I still remember—the names have been changed to protect the innocent:
“Phillips and Sons used CHEVY and PRE-OWNED FORD DEALERS, the city’s lowest prices for all used Chevys and pre-owned Fords! You’ll save TONS and TONS and TOOOONNNNNNSSSSS!
“Save on any Chevy or pre-owned Ford right here at Phillips and Sons, where you’ll save HUGE on every used Chevy and pre-owned Ford. Come see our selection of used Chevys and pre-owned Fords TODAY! AT Phillips and Sons, home of the used Chevys and pre-owned Fords! PHILLIPS AND SONS!”
They ran that radio ad for a long time. Each time I heard it, I wanted to be killed with a pair of left-handed pliers.
Another advertisement I did:
“Allen’s Rib Shack and BARBECUE is CRAZY FUN for the WHOLE DADGUM FAMILY! WE’RE SO CRAZY WE’RE GIVING AWAY FREE APPETIZERS! That’s right! TUESDAY NIGHT is BUFFALO WING NIGHT!”
(Cue rap music)
“WHO LET THE BUFFALOS OUT?!!! WHO!! WHO!! WHO!!”
You get the point.
The man at the radio station wanted to hire me and pay me twenty dollars per ad. Ultimately, I refused. I felt dirty reading those commercials. I am not a salesman—I couldn’t sell watermelons if you had a state trooper to flag down traffic.
But then, this is how I have always been. I have had a knack for the wrong things. And I wasted a lot of time wanting them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret much, but I’m sorry I missed the small things I should’ve noticed.
Things like hummingbirds, feral cats, the smell of longleaf pines, cypresses, and the way lillies cover a pond. And the euphoric taste of biscuits.
If you ask me, the self-help experts were wrong. Life isn’t something you build for yourself. It sort of happens to you. Every piece of it.
The good, the bad, the ugly. Or maybe it’s like sitting in a boat on beautiful water, like the kind I’m looking at.
A big place, filled with the beautiful things I’ve known; the beautiful moments I once thought were coincidences; the tragedies that should’ve killed me, but didn’t; the angelic dogs who found me when I wasn’t looking; and friends who have become my adopted family.
I’m only sorry I didn’t pay better attention. To life. To ice cold tea. To biscuits. Dogs. And lilies.
But, if you can hear me, Heaven:
I’m paying attention now.
Don’t forget to visit Phillips and Sons for the lowest prices on all used Chevys and pre-owned Fords.
Glenda hULBERT - September 3, 2018 7:02 am
GOOD, BETTER, BEST
Travis - September 3, 2018 11:31 am
Bout sums life up!
Stop and smell the roses sometime ?
Geneva Chandler - September 3, 2018 11:54 am
I love the way you sing. I have heard you many times at Church: ASF.
Jack Darnell - September 3, 2018 12:31 pm
You should be in jail, No one confesses better ‘n you! LOL In my case it wouldn’t be good to confess everything I tried or wanted to do or become. I have had more time than you! Music? I volunteered to take the place of the music director at church while he was on vacation. I never heard the answer the committee laughed too hard. There are times I can’t understand things! I wish I had one of ’em biscuits!
Terri C Boykin - September 3, 2018 12:35 pm
I’m with you Jack, one of those biscuits would taste pretty dang good right now!
Pat - September 3, 2018 2:29 pm
I just made some pear preserves that would taste goooooood on a hot buttered biscuits! Just saying…………….
Vaudy Holley - September 3, 2018 2:30 pm
There are no such thing as bad days. God knows we think that sometime. I have learned that all days are good but some are better that others!
Jeanne Butler - September 3, 2018 2:39 pm
I think you pay attention to a lot. And are trying to get me to do the same thing. Some days it’s hard to do with all the stress of life. But then I take a book and go sit outside and watch the river. Love
Anita Renfroe - September 3, 2018 2:48 pm
But, then again, you DID end up on radio AND singing songs, but on your own terms. Which is ultimately the sweetest spot.
Susan Swiderski - September 3, 2018 3:05 pm
And that’s what counts: you’re paying attention now. Even better, you help your readers notice and appreciate, too.
Sandra Smith - September 3, 2018 3:13 pm
Yep, the little things can matter most. ❤
Jennifer B. Jones - September 3, 2018 3:55 pm
You’re correct, Sir!! We forget to notice those things when working aaallll the time &rsising 3 sons. Butnow that they’re respectable adults, I fiind myself being crazy over say hummingbirds divebombing each other, thr cicades in the evening, warm any bread and a smile.
Thanks for your perspective.
Jody - September 3, 2018 4:22 pm
The little things ARE the big things in my life. Thanks for reminding me
Edna B. - September 3, 2018 4:35 pm
I agree, life happens to you just the way He planned it. You are right where you are supposed to be. Thank goodness, because so many of us look for your wisdom and stories every day to give our own day a great start. You are so blessed Sean. I am too. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
Haskel JP - September 3, 2018 5:14 pm
Small things like hummingbirds really do matter. Nothing like watching these little acrobats battle over sugar water.
perry5360 - September 3, 2018 6:36 pm
Yes right there with you, I’d eat your biscuits steal your dogs and lay by the pond listening to crickets and watching the lilies dance on the water. Life is a glorious thing once you realize it’s all about the small stuff.
Rhonda jenkins - September 3, 2018 9:10 pm
Sean you make my day each morning! Your way of thinking reminds me of my husband.?We have been camping last 5 days with our 2 dogs and no Wi-Fi. Didn’t miss not having a phone but did miss my morning email!! Thank you
Martha Wellsandt - September 8, 2018 6:24 pm
This is my third day of hearing about you and reading your stories. And, sir, you are a genuine story teller! My nephew shared two of his favorite stories you had written, and I was hooked – immediately. I have laughed and shed a tear or two and savored how eloquently you let us know about the beauty in the most simple parts of our lives. I don’t know where you’ve been or how long you’ve been at this, but I thank God that I found you.