From the third through sixth grade I attended East Elementary School – about two miles from my house. I remember walking home from school those days, and one memory stands out more than any other. No, it wasn't that it was uphill both ways, or that I walked barefoot in the driving snow – which is so prevalent in Texas. It was a dog – a German Shepherd that I had to walk past in order to get home. Granted, the dog was kept inside a fenced backyard – but I really don’t believe that fence was any match for this ferocious animal. Every day when I walked (or ran) by, he came running at me – growling, barking, and trying to jump that fence. His paws would come flying over the fence, and I just knew that sooner or later he would indeed make it over – or the fence would collapse and leave me defenseless.
This daily panic-induced adrenaline rush eventually brought me to the point of asking my dad for help. I still remember his words – “Oh, there’s nothing to be afraid of – if the fence ever fell down, that dog would tuck tail and run the other way.” I don’t think I ever truly believed that if the barrier of the fence were removed, the dog would really turn and run – but since the fence held up I will never know.
However, I do still have a chance to test the concept. For over 40 years I’ve been working at a job somewhere – the last 31 all at the same company. With a few short, but notable exceptions I’ve always loved my work – maybe even too much at times. I also came to feel a sense of obligation and responsibility to my work and its constant and growing demands. Whether for love or obligation I often let it become a barrier to doing many of the other things I’ve always said I wanted. It’s kept me from time with my family, from fishing, golfing, camping, woodworking or finding a group of folks I could “pick & grin” with regularly. I’ve wanted to volunteer more than I have – to learn to speak a foreign language, and the list goes on and on.
But last week I retired – and for now, the work barrier is gone. I guess it's time to see if I’ll really go after all those things I’ve been barking about – or just tuck tail and run.