In the plains that stretch across the United States we don’t climb the highest mountain to find a sage monk to discover enlightenment. First, there are no mountains. There are hills and speed bumps, but no mountains. Secondly, there is an extremely short supply of sage monks. Sagebrush, yes. Sage monks, not so much. Finally, enlightenment is over eight letters long so it is unlikely that any of us would seek after it. We use to have the same problem with barbeques until we shortened it to BBQ, and now we enjoy a good rack of baby back ribs regularly.
Fortunately in Pottawatomie County there is a wise man, a guru of sorts, who sits on the bank of Foggy Boggy Creek. If you can find him, he will share with you words of wisdom. And though the way is tough and the journey hard I, on rare occasions, traveled to this man to seek his guidance.
August 24, 1965:
The summer had been hot and rain had been scarce. I was sweating as I approached the bank. The river was empty, the dirt cracked and dry. But for the first time I saw the old man who sat by the bank of the Foggy Boggy Creek.
“I am entering my senior year of high school and I do not know what to do when I am done.” There was a pause, a pregnant pause.
All right this pregnant pause was having quadruplets.
“Without rain from the heavens and runoff from the mountains the river has no water.”
I understood. Water from on high, higher education, was the key. So I went to college.
January 27, 1973
It was a particularly cold winter. Ice covered the ground and the trees. The river no longer flowed but was frozen solid. And there on the bank as always was the wise man of Pottawatomie County.
“Work has been tough. I haven’t been moving up the corporate ladder as quickly as I would like.”
“It is so cold you could walk on the river.”
I understood. I was wading through my workplace with all of its employees. I should make the climate such that I can walk over them.
May 3, 1984
I snagged a zipper on my parachute pants as I headed to the far bank of the Foggy Boggy Creek. And there was the man, once again sitting just as he had before. This time the river was flowing quickly and a large bovine was munching on the green grass.
“I am getting older and having a problem with my relationships.”
“In the spring when the water flows everything grows. When everything grows all kinds of birds and animals come to the river bank.”
I understood. If I looked successful and had a lot to show for my work then women would simply come to me. So I bought a sports car and a house in a fancy neighborhood.
April 24, 1996
It had been a rainy spring following a terrible winter. The ground was muddy as I followed that old path to the Foggy Boggy Creek. The snow was melting in the mountains and the rains had been hard. The creek was swelling and had crested the bank. But there on the bank with water up to his eyebrows was the man.
“I’ve married and have a family. I’ve made it to the top. What is next?”
“Glubb bloo gurgle gurgle glub.”
I understood. I took up scuba diving.
September 6, 2006
Today I return to the Foggy Boggy Creek for the first time in ten years. It is a beautiful day in late summer. The sky is blue and the air is fresh. I am taking my little grand daughter to Pottawatomie County to meet the man. He is there as always, much older than I remember. Next to him is a small child.
“Honey, look this is the wise man who challenged me to go to college, work hard, meet your grandmother, and learn to scuba dive.”
The old man turned to the young lad next to him, “Grandson, this is the selfish man I’ve been telling you about. I followed this path four times to find the wise man of Pottawatomie County and he is the man I saw each time. When I was thirsty he turned and walked away, when I was cold he watched me shiver, when I was threatened by a bull he saved himself, and when I was nearly drowned he simply waved.”
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