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Flying By the Seat of Our Pants

© Another Day in the Country

When my sister and I decided to leave the West Coast for awhile and come back to the Heartland, we were definitely flying by the seat of our pants.

We had no idea how long we’d stay, what it would be like to live in a small rural town, or how we’d support ourselves.

On the other hand, we did have family here. We had a house to live in and we had some savings we could buy groceries with for a while, for three or four months, I thought.

Coming to Ramona was going to be an adventure. We were creative people, willing to take a chance at this stage in our lives and go for it.

Come to think of it, that’s more or less the story of our ancestors. My great-grandparents were immigrants who came to America, pretty much like all of our ancestors, flying by the seat of their pants. They didn’t know what it would be like. They didn’t know the common language; but they were creative, hardworking folk, willing to take a chance at this stage of their lives and go for it.

Just like us, my ancestors already had relatives in the area, people who were willing to help them get a job, gave them a place to stay for a bit and make a life for themselves.

None of us know how it is all going to work out when we take a chance and move to a new area; but we hope for the best and work hard to hold up our end of the bargain. And here we all are, in a great and prosperous country, created by immigrants who were all flying by the seat of their pants.

I just got back from North Carolina a few days ago. When the latest hurricane was lashing at our eastern shores a couple of weeks ago, I called a friend of mine who lives in the area. “Have you blown away?” I wanted to know. She assured me that the brunt of the storm was seven hours away, which seemed to be a nice safe distance from a storm.

“When are you coming to see us?” my old friend asked. She is an old friend in both her years and her longevity as my friend. I met her more than 50 years ago when I was 21 and she was 10 years older. We became acquainted and then became friends, and that friendship has lasted all these years.

Since we’re all getting older, I thought, “If I’m going to see her again, now is the time to go,” so I just up and made arrangements to fly to North Carolina for a week. It was definitely a “fly by the seat of your pants” decision, since I hadn’t seen her in at least 15 years.

The miracle of good friendships is that years and years can go by and when friends are together again, the same qualities that drew them to us in the first place are still intact, and we go on as if the years have not flown by. It was fun to be in a new part of the country and, then, it was good to be back home.

While I was traveling, I was finishing a book I’d been reading about our forefathers. It was a book about Alexander Hamilton who has been brought to our attention most recently by a young playwright who incongruously produced a rap musical on Broadway.

As I read the book and refreshed my memory of historical events, I was so struck by the fact that our forefathers were very much flying by the seat of their pants. When we read about the beginnings of this great democracy, in retrospect, we pretty much take for granted that forming this new country was meant to be; but it was tenuous business. Only as we look back can we see the thread of progress strongly woven in our history.

If we think that politics are crazy now, we must remember that it was also crazy then, too. To get an ever-increasing population on the same page, especially a true and noble page, is hard work. During hard times, it’s easier to rally the masses for the common good, just like it still is in all of our small towns in Marion County. During the good times, when harvests are plentiful, it’s a little more difficult to get folk to cooperate.

So, here we are at another election, flying by the seat of our pants. We may not like our choices, but we must honor those who have fought for our freedom to choose and get out there and vote. Make the very best choice you can even if you think the options flawed, and then let’s all be grateful that we can spend another day in our amazing country.

Last modified Nov. 3, 2016

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