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Blogging gurus preach you shouldn’t wait too long to tell the reader where they are going and why they should stay until the end. I apologize in advance. I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t. The punch line for this posting is pretty far down and you might not get it, if you skip to it first. Sorry…

“Do Not Change Horses In The Middle Of The Stream” was one of many “truisms” post-WWII children were raised on. Truisms are so obviously true, as to be self-evident, at least to those who dispense the them. Many childhood truisms are really about classroom management and crowd control, not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Growing up in Wichita, Kansas during the 50s, the only horses I saw were in movies and have yet to require a change of horses in the middle of a stream. Yet, I know in my bones, “You Don’t Change Horses In The Middle Of A Stream.”

Unfortunately, once set in place, childhood truisms survive well into adulthood, without being re-examined or discarded. Along the way, they ofttimes spontaneously generate siblings. Caught or taught, with the not changing horses, I found and adopted “Getting back in the saddle”, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, “Quitters never win” and other sayings that fast-tracked daily choices the should require at least a few cognitive cycles, into default settings and knee-jerk reactions.

No one who taught me “the rules of the road” also taught me the roads will change and the rules should change with them. It wasn’t a conspiracy. The same generation that won WWII, with no prior experience, thought how they “did it” should work for whoever came next. They were building the roads out of concrete. Change wasn’t a factor; cross that bridge after you build it.

For the most part Dad’s “rules of the road” worked, until I realized too late, they’d stopped working. He taught me how to work hard, but didn’t teach me what to do when it came time to retire. In his defense, he didn’t know either. When he finally did retire, he mostly waited to be told what to do next, by people who wanted to sell him stuff. Those who could have skillfully taught us what comes next were still working, and they didn’t time anyway. Besides the fabric of society changed after WWII, as it always does about the time the kids become adults and find out living on their own costs more than they thought.

Graduating from Sunnyvale High School in 1965, I was exhorted to go to college, so I could get a better job. And once I found that good job, I should keep it for at least 30 years. I was the first in my family to go to college, landed a good job and stayed with it for 30 years and one month, before retiring. That worked, mostly. Single-parenting cost more than the retirement counselor or the online calculators estimated. Then there’s the “Bank of Dad”.

My Dad told me if I could get $300,000 dollars in a 5% passbook savings account at the bank, I could live off the interest and never have to touch the principle. I never even got a twentieth of the way down that road and 5% on a bank savings account sure ain’t happening anymore.

There are truisms that live forever and sometimes takes almost that long for us to appreciate. For me, that’s a short list:

  • 1. God is Gracious, and that’s a good thing
  • 2. Everyone comes messed up – a little or a lot
  • 3. Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend
  • 4. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose to do your best, with what you’ve been dealt
  • 5. Things always look different in the morning

 

The childhood “truisms” we run our daily lives by are like cinnamon rolls…best when still warm from the oven, but require special circumstances and care to be any good the next day. The “big things” – good and bad – get planted early and live long (see #2 above). The “daily things” should be examined in the light of that day, under the “good boughs” of your “big things.” If you don’t have any “good boughs”, God will help you find someone who does.

“Do Not Change Horses In The Middle Of The Stream”, unless the horse can’t go any farther, the stream overflows its banks or you realize you have no business being on any horse, in the middle of any stream. Move to higher ground. Build a fire. Find some shelter. It could be a long night.

Thanks for staying until the end 🙂

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