Thursday, July 9, 2015

Your Move

I drove through Hendrum, Minnesota, the other day. You can get to it by taking any of the nine exits off of US Highway 75. That kind of language makes it sound like a large city, but in fact, Hendrum is rather small; about three hundred people call it home. Whether you approach it from the north or south, a sign at the city limits welcomes you to Hendrum, “Next 9 Exits.”

Coming perilously close to missing my chance, I took the ninth one. Hendrum is a nice, quiet town, filled with nice, quiet people I suppose. I didn’t notice anything too remarkable in my short visit, and yet if I hadn’t turned I may have spent the rest of my days wondering, “what if?”

You can go insane rather quickly by second–guessing every move (trust me), so the trick is to avoid those situations whenever you can. Many years ago Jesse, a friend of mine, said “Should haves don’t help us. There is nothing we can do about the past.” A missed chance is gone.

I think one of the great unspoken “should–haves,” is the lament of those who are making a life change to “spend more time with my family.” I recognize that life’s obligations often requires time away from family to earn a living, but I also think that sometimes people finally open their eyes and see the years flying by. Better late than never, I suppose.

In my on–going effort to avoid spending my waning years wallowing in regret, I traveled with part of my family to visit another part of my family. We traveled north to Norman County, Minnesota, where they were having their county fair.

Most every county fair (including Scott County) has its own characteristics. Up north in Norman they have a historical village, car and tractor show, school bus races (without children on–board) and a life–size foosball game with real people doing the kicking. The team made up of members from a culture where soccer is the sport of choice dominated the game.

One of the vendors in the commercial building had a sign on his table that said “$1 for a chess lesson.” Aware that a dollar here or there will not break me, plus knowing that my chess game could be better – I handed him a buck.

After fifteen minutes I was really getting my money’s worth, even though I had offered more. In that time I learned a move with a French name (en passant) that involves the taking of a pawn, how to effectively castle, how to beat someone in four moves, and how to lose to a county fair vendor in eight.

But most importantly, I learned some life lessons. A peaceful existence is best. Never pass up an opportunity to experience something new – provided of course it is not illegal, immoral or unethical. Every player needs to follow the rules and to keep their options open.

In the beginning the whole game is in front of you, even though your range of motion is limited. In the middle there is a variety of options available to you, but as the game nears the end you are left with very few moves.

Until I reach my final exit, I plan to keep playing and moving. Clearly, there is nothing humdrum about that.

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