While visiting Yosemite last summer, finding a free parking space outside Half Dome Village required a hunt of over an hour. I circled the same aisles dozens – hundreds? – of times. Having risen before dawn and driven five hours to get to the park, I seriously considered turning around and heading home. The purpose of the trip? Realize some small measure of relaxation, and to appreciate sublime scenery. Yet there I trolled, desperate to find a place to park, my eyes glued to the lot, watching for lit taillights.
(Meanwhile, the friend journeying to join me continued inching his way into the park through dense valley traffic. But that’s his story.)
Maybe repeatedly looping around the same small patch of ground prompted me to think back on my first job…
The paper route I shared with my sister? No, not that first job. Try again.
Raking leaves off the lawns of the elderly living up and down my street for a few pity bucks? Nope, not that one either.
Assembling buckets with cookies around Christmastime at my grandfather’s bakery? Warmer! Warmer!
Mowing my grandparent’s lawn? Ding! Ding! Ding! Winner!
My grandparents owned a ranch-style house that overlooked a river. Level with the house, the backyard consisted of a flat expanse that stretched the width of the house, perfect for horseshoe games or lawn darts. Then it crested a rise over a levee, and descended to the river. Here’s a picture (quadruple the amount of grass you see):
Every week, I mowed back and forth for hours, pausing occasionally to empty the basket of cut grass, to fill the mower with gas, or to repair a sprinkler head jarred loose (alright, alright, Papa K did the repairs — but I watched!).
My grandfather strongly believed in being a “good worker.” He regularly vocalized about what that entails: keep moving, move fast, clean up after yourself, and so on. You know what being a good worker means – you’re either already practicing it, or you’ve seen it in others. High on his list stood perseverance: finish the job you started.
Perseverance. Not exactly a universal truth. We in America live in a world of instant gratification. A world where barely-talented, untrained singers win competitions by relating their saddest personal tragedy, not through hard work; by “overcoming” loss, not obstacles. A world where grocery stores “suggest” customers bring in their own bags, then entreat them to check out and bag their own groceries, while the few remaining cashiers — struggling to hold down rare jobs that provide health benefits — talk instead to the baggers, avoiding eye contact with their customers. A world where… Ugh. Don’t get me started.
Anyway, thoughts of my grandfather and his favorite topic kept me making revolutions around that Yosemite lot. Finally, I lucked into being the closest car to a parking space when another car pulled out. Yippee!
After that, I enjoyed all the park had to offer. Well, maybe not Yosemite Falls, dry for the season. And not that milkshake I craved desperately and was twice denied, due to broken milkshake machines (go buy a blender, people). But so much else! Stuff like this:
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