Since this is the first post of a brand new year, it’s only fitting to first reflect a bit on things just passed before we take a look towards the future, don’cha think? Tradition, you know.
So let’s start with a little, um, thing that happened just last week.
If you’re like many of us, you’ve recently celebrated the birth of Christ on December 25th. (I know it may come as a shocker to some, but He really IS the reason for the season, y’know. Just sayin’.) AND, at least here in the “Western” world, today marks the first day of a brand new year. (Yeah, I know the Asian world won’t celebrate New Year’s for a few more weeks. “Close enough”, I say.)
Anyhoo, I don’t know about you, but during the Christmas season some of the things Mrs. MZM and I look forward to the most are the Christmas music, the special Christmas events, and especially the Christmas Pageants, particularly at our local churches, large and small. I’m tellin’ ya; we’ve seen (and been a part of) some that are as good as or better than anything you’d find on Broadway. (Well, at least off-Broadway quality, anyway.)
In fact, we went to one of those “big production” pageants just before Christmas at a large church near us. It was quite a show, I’ll tell ya! The highlight was, during one musical number commemorating the arrival of the Wise Men (or, as I prefer to call ‘em, the “Wise Guys”), the three of them rode in on genuine, real live camels and an elephant! Yup – an elephant strolled right across the stage. Wow. (The engineer in me couldn’t help but wonder if they’d performed a weight distribution calculation on that wooden floor. No worries, though; nothing collapsed. But I digress.)
The elephant, of course, was the most impressive part of the entire pageant. He strolled majestically to the center of the stage like the king of all land creatures that he was, and then paused for his rider to disembark. As soon as that was accomplished, he performed for us a little, raising his trunk and one leg towards the audience as if to say, “hey lookit me!” I suppose it’s the elephant equivalent of a curtsey. The audience was very appreciative; it earned him a round of applause for a great job. Way to go, Bubba!
Gravity – “It’s the Law!”
Well, that’s when it happened.
After our friend the elephant little gave his little performance, his handler gave him his cue and he headed off towards the exit at stage right. Unfortunately, as he turned around it became obvious for all to see that his leg and trunk weren’t the, er, only things he’d raised, if you get my meanin’. Yep, that’s right – he had his tail raised too. And if you’ve ever been around animals of any kind, you know what that means, right? Yessir – when that tail goes up – something, er, else generally comes down. It’s like, gravity. And yep, that’s exactly what happened!
There came a collective “uh-oh” from the audience as, at right about the same moment we all realized just exactly what was about to happen. That poor elephant! Instead of applause for a job well done, this particular job instead earned a clearly audible gasp (and more than a few horrified screams) and a resounding “eww-yuk!” from everyone. I’m tellin’ ya; for once Mrs. MZM and I were thrilled – absolutely thrilled – to be at the back of the auditorium!
Y’know, it’s a cryin’ shame, too. All the work and time those folks put into that production – the writing, the music, the rehearsals, the costumes – it was a gargantuan effort, to be sure. But the sad fact is (at least for those of us who attended this one particular performance), ten years from now when we recall this pageant, this is what we’ll remember!
Probably Not What You Expected
So along about now you may be asking, “Uh, what the heck has that previous – and somewhat disgusting – story have to do with the New Year?” Well, that’s a doggone good question!
Here’s the thing.
Over the years I’ve jokingly said many times the phrase I plan to have emblazoned on my tombstone when I kick the ol’ bucket is, “Y’know, things didn’t quite work out like I’d planned!” (Actually, I’m only half-joking.)
Still, it never ceases to amaze me how differently things always seem to work out from what I, in my mind at least, think should be the “ideal”. You know what I mean, right? It’s been my experience that, no matter how well I’ve mapped out my future, there’s always something – or someone – that comes along and throws a monkey wrench in the works; stuff I simply can’t plan for.
Let’s see… I know there’s a technical term for it… wait, wait… it’s coming clearer… Ah yes! I think it’s called, uh, life.
All I’m sayin’ is, hey, it’s a brand new year! It’s really all right to make your plans. After all, plans are good. Plans are necessary. Plans help keep things on track. In fact, it’s sorta like that image up there at the top of this post I titled “The Uncertain Future”. It’s a somewhat blurry photo of a corridor stretching out ahead. You can make out the walls, the floor, the line of light fixtures above, leading off into a possibly bright future. But at the same time – it ain’t all that clear, either.
Yeah, it’s sorta like that.
Hey, just remember this one thing: if you really want to be able to face the future in style, then Bubba, in all your planning, don’t forget to make allowances for life.
Yep; that’s the way to face the future, my friends. Be flexible when it comes to the unexpected. It’s the only way you’ll be able to roll with it and keep on keepin’ on, y’know? Just like that pageant. Did the unfortunate “elephant incident” stop the show? Not on your life! Folks just kept a careful eye on where they were steppin’ – and then kept right on walkin’.
Hey, I’ve known folks who seemed to know (or at least claimed to know) exactly where they were goin’ and what they’d be doin’ in the years ahead… and I gotta tell ya; folks like that irritate me to no end. Oh, it’s nothing personal, mind you. It’s just that after fifty-mumblemumble years, I’ve come to the sobering conclusion that there is absolutely nothing carved in stone about the future.
And there’s the lesson for the day year.
Happy New Year and a tip o’ the hat to ya!