A Place None of Us Want To Be
Irrelevance is not a city, so far as I know. But it is a place in time. It is a condition. It is a “state of mind”.
Looking back at Sandy Point, I see in my memory’s eye that a lot of what was important back then is now deemed irrelevant. Take the old farm bell as an example. That ole bell was truly old and not some reproduction to fool antique buyers. Everybody was an antique buyer and user back in those days. Most didn’t even know it.
Today, the bell has no relevance. It still works if you pulled the rope and still makes a sound that no one wants or needs to hear. It makes no contribution unless you consider the aesthetic value. It is just something to look at and walk around.
The chain and wheel pulley from the well is another such irrelevant item. You still see some on fake wells and in antique stores but you don’t see any in use anymore. My grandfather called them a wheelis.
There were stilliards and corn grinders and sickle mowers pulled behind a tractor or horse. The buggy whip and the buggy manufacturers in Barnesville are all gone. There were old hay rakes that were pull behind’s and a person rode on a hard steel seat to manage the rakes. Even barb wire is of no use to most of us today. Irrelevance is everywhere. The old cow pen across the road was burned down along with the barn. Irrelevant.
The outhouse was torn down. So were the chicken houses and the old gulley where all the junk went was covered up. Irrelevant.
The mules were sold. The crosscut saw hung on a side of the storage house, unused; until the unused storage house got into such disrepair it was torn down, too. All had no relevance.
I now have several bedrooms in my house that I could board up or sell the furniture. They don’t get used much anymore. I don’t think it is because they are non-relevant. I think it is more that I have become so. They have fallen victim to my condition.
Yes, people reach a stage of irrelevance, too. Not a part of much and not missed too much when we aren’t around. Not really in the way when we are around but somewhat of an inconvenience. Not making too much difference if we are there are not.
I look a John McCain, the senator. His father was a navy admiral and he became a navy pilot. Shot down in Vietnam and captured he carries the scars of that ordeal. That service and his capture and subsequent torture earned him a lot of respect that got him elected senator. Maybe that is OK. Somehow those deeds, heroic or not, were not enough to get him in as President. And he now is a bitter and somewhat irrelevant old man. I can sympathize with him on that score.
We all would probably like to go out of this life with style, dignity, and grace. But life sometimes robs us of that privilege.
The old cowboys wanted to die with their boots on even if they could no longer sit a horse. If we could see our life mapped out from beginning to end, and we were given a choice, we might choose to stop it just a day or two before total irrelevance.
An old friend recently told me how his son had come to visit him in the nursing home where he lives. They talked about his truck that was out in the parking lot. The son asked if he could get the keys and go show it to the man’s grandson. When they left that day, they drove off in the old truck. The grandson was going to use it. It seemed to the son that the truck was no longer relevant to the old man. To the old man it was one of the few things that seemed to give him relevance. Who knows? Maybe it was not nice enough of cool enough but, in any event, it was traded off to a tree surgeon to pay to have some trees cut down. The old man was not relevant in the decision and the man and the truck were both irrelevant.
So whether you are from Sandy Point, Montana or Timbuktu, always keep an eye on where you are now, at this moment in time. A GPS won’t help you much with this problem, either. You could end up in the state of irrelevance and not even know it. Before you arrive there it is important that you have done as much as you can to have made your life one of relevance and meaning because when you get to that “state”, there is no turning back.
JC © 2017