Captain Oblivious

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dairy cow

During my early years of growing up, school classes were small and gospel revivals were large. Today, that seems to be reversed. We just finished up our gospel meeting with the attendance being OK, but not what I can remember back when I was a farm kid having to get through at the barn early so we could get a good seat near the back at our church’s annual gospel meeting. It would run for a week, and each night it would be standing-room only except on the front seat, which was reserved for those who came forward during the invitation to make the good confession.

Growing up in the country landscape of Tennessee, I had the chance to witness a lot of those revivals, and it didn’t hurt me one bit. Watching red wasps circle the globe-shaped lights hanging from the wainscoted ceilings often would get my attention during the sermon, but when the preacher would hit a high point with a rise in his voice, my attention would return for a while until one of those wasps would circle downward near a man’s shirt collar. From then on, I would watch the wasp move in and out around the unsuspecting gentleman’s shirt until it got swatted by a fellow worshiper’s funeral-home fan or would fly off on its own. In all my years of gospel-meeting wasp watching, I never saw anyone get stung. I guess back then that even the wasp had respect for those who made the effort to go to church more so than some in our government have these days. But that’s a different subject.

Being born in a log house in Rutherford County, at an early age I learned that each day is what you make it and if you don’t, no one else will. That has held true all these years for me, but life and today’s society tries to change that every day. I had the chance to be a boy prior to internet, computers, cable TV, cellphones, texting, twittering, shopping malls, two showers a day and designer clothes.

Just the other day, I saw a kid walking down a local road with his cellphone in hand. He was busy texting, oblivious to what was going on around him. My youthhood missed that experience, but there were also times I could become oblivious to my surroundings just like today’s kids.

One particular oblivion opportunity was when I would drive the dairy cows up for milking in the afternoon after school as a daily chore. I had to drive them across our county road that only had traffic from people who lived on that gravel road, which wasn’t many. The cows usually took their time, and because of this, I became a tumblebug watcher. The beetles were in abundance back in those days, and I very seldom see them anymore. Of course, I don’t drive cows across the road anymore because traffic is too busy, and the state doesn’t care for it much either. But, watching a tumblebug was pure amazement for a country kid. A tumblebug is a beetle, not a true bug. It is a nickname for dung beetles, which mold, roll away and bury balls of manure on which they feed and lay their eggs. But on a warm afternoon after the cows had crossed the road and left deposits, it was fun to watch one of those large beetles roll their next meal over the rough graveled road, off the roadside and into the barn lot. It took a lot of hard work on that insect’s part, and they got a lot of respect from those of us who watched them. You even hated to see a car come by and smash their projects, causing them to have to start over if they did not become a part of the roadway as well.

I guess my life was simpler than the kid with the cellphone. I’m sure watching a tumblebug is a lot less stressful than getting a Twitter message from your school telling you that state testing starts tomorrow. I sort of wish the kid with the cellphone could experience the days when school classes were small and gospel revivals were large.

Just for a little while that is.

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