Good and bad opposite sides of same coin

BY BOB WACHS, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/11/19

Have you ever given thought to how events or happenings can build us up or push us down almost at the same time?

Those roller-coaster events can bring us to tears or to laughter within a blink of …

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Good and bad opposite sides of same coin

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Have you ever given thought to how events or happenings can build us up or push us down almost at the same time?

Those roller-coaster events can bring us to tears or to laughter within a blink of an eye and both can leave us next door to exhaustion when they’re over.

One of those times in my life I remember most clearly is in the life of the older of the two forty-somethings who used to be teenagers who lived at my house.

It was in those glorious days of high school when most of the world is right and the stars have all aligned in the proper order. As she moved along in her last year, she began to deal with “where do I want to go to college” and “what do I want to do with my life” and so on and so forth.

Deciding she would follow in her mama’s footsteps and become a teacher — her choice, since she had seen the ups and downs of the career first-hand — she made application to the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program, a system that provided a four-year college scholarship if the recipient would pay it back by teaching in a North Carolina public school for four years. If you bail out before the four years, then you were supposed to pay back the money.

As a part of that application process you were to list, in order of preference, the colleges you’d like to attend that took part in the program. Then you mail it back in and wait — to see if you got in and where you’d be sent to school.

And wait. And wait some more.

She did all that and then came the glorious day when Mr. Mailman dropped an envelope into our box at the road. She, by then, was pretty much living next to the mailbox so when she saw the return address, she ripped open the envelope.

I can still see the scene in my mind’s eye: I’m standing on the front porch; she’s walking down the driveway looking over the contents.

“I got in (meaning she had been awarded a scholarship),” she yelled to the people in the next county.

Then a nano-second later the world comes crashing down. “They’re sending me to (XXXXX).” (The name of the school in question shall remain nameless here for fear of offending the gentle souls who went to school there; suffice it to say that it was her third choice.)

For the next hundred hours, her mother and I sought to help her through the teachable moment that the best school anyone could attend was the one that offered a scholarship (I hope I feel that way always; what if one or more of my grandchildren gets a ride to Duke? . . . Please don’t call, write, or assault me in public, Dear Reader. I’m just kidding . . . maybe.)

We also made the effort to point out that she would have employment, something not easily or always guaranteed after college, while she was paying off the four years.

For her, the story had a happy ending. Sometime later after being placed on a waitlist for her favorite school, she got in after other recipients, for whom her number one choice was their number two or three, opted out and opened up a space.

So what’s the moral? My mama would say it’s the old line, “All’s well that ends well.” The Book tells us it’s along the lines of “in all things, God works for good for those who love him” — “all things” meaning good and bad things.

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about how the good and the bad often co-exist so closely in both time and space. For instance, the recent cool nights have let us turn off the air conditioner and deprive the power company of some of their revenue so it could become some of our revenue. We have flung open the windows, letting in the sounds of night — the train whistle at Bonlee, the squirrels chirping over who gets the next acorn, the dogs across the way in their nocturnal discussions, even the hair-raising symphony of the resident pack of coyotes across the woods.

But those same open windows also let in the breezes, which often are scented with the evidence of Peppy Le Pew and the seemingly nightly skunk family reunion. I’m pretty sure most of that happens as the dogs and the skunks get together to vote.

So, what to do? As in all parts of life, whether it’s a scholarship or a skunk, the answer most likely is take a deep breath, tie another knot, wait a bit, hang on and look for the good.

The smell goes away after a while.


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