I gunned the throttle, paddle-shifting my way off the two lane and onto the four lane that would take me to I-20 and then home.
Not a hundred yards down the road, as I settled into sixth gear and the sweet hum of a new engine eager to cruise, I looked off to my left and saw a swirling cloud of brown dust, rising upwards in that haphazard way that is usually driven by man and machine rather than wind or storm. I hit sixty, set the cruise control, and waited to come over the little rise that obscured the architect of the dust devil. Then I saw her.
She was in her twenties if that, tanned and wearing jean shorts and a t-shirt, sunglasses against the early afternoon glare and a set of white earbuds trailing their thin cord down into her pocket. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail that could only be described as dancing. She sat astride a green John Deere lawn tractor that was jumping and bumping its way over a patch of what we in the Southland call a “yard”, but which is actually a wide patch of dry, red Georgia clay with little areas of green that pass for grass but are really ornamental weeds. Nothing unusual about cutting the grass on a tractor that could make a half-dozen passes on that size tract and call it done. Nothing at all. That was not what struck me.
She was singing at the top of her lungs. I mean singing, belting out some tune that made me wish I had a hundred-yard white cord running from a splitter that would let me in on what she was listening to. She yanked the wheel of the tractor this way and that, her head snapping at the end of her neck like white sheets on a clothesline on a windy spring day. I smiled, an involuntary reaction to such unbridled joy, seen visually for only a few seconds as I raced past her, but conjuring up pure emotion in my brain and in my heart.
Maybe I was just primed for that little glimpse of happiness. Maybe I needed it, was looking for it, seeking it out on the side of the road. Maybe it just happened to be there, and nothing less.
I don’t know.
I do know this.
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
If you know you only have a certain amount of time left here, make that the best time you’ve ever spent on earth.
When you get the chance to have an experience, have that experience as fully and wonderfully and intensely as you possibly can.
If you have to crank up the tractor and cut the yard in a cloud of swirling red Georgia clay on a fine spring Sunday afternoon, then put the earbuds in, fire up the music you love the best, and sing out loud with it as lustily as you can, swinging ponytail and all.
You never know, my friends, who might be driving down the highway and how much you will make them smile.
Have a good week.