By Rick Eastes, Guest Contributor
It was a Saturday morning and we were driving into town. I do not recall that much about that morning before we rolled up to the stop sign where the Kansas Settlement Road meets the Dos Cabezas Highway on the way to Willcox, Arizona. I had just turned fifteen.
I do not recall if Pop and I ever had a discussion similar to the one we had that morning while we were going into town. The Dos Cabezas highway discussion became the key to every decision I ever made about anything significant. It helped me resolve all kinds of issues—marriage, divorce, relationships of all kinds, business decisions, and almost anything requiring perspective and decisiveness.
What we talked about that morning led me to understand that decisions are made continuously without pauses. I came to realize that we all are either acting or reacting constantly, and that more often than not; our ideas of right and wrong can be infinitely variable.
Pop’s wisdom on that chilly morning addressed resources, truth, and allowed for resolution of every problem (whether I “liked” the resolution or not). It addressed anxiety head-on.
I came to define anxiety as that state of mind that keeps us from doing anything significant for ourselves, out of fear that if we act and accept responsibility for our actions, something ultimately bad will happen, from which there is no return, when nothing is exactly the same again, ever.
Pop said, “If there was ever a theme I have ever truly tried to teach you, it was to try to use good judgment—to think about the consequences of your actions”. “At this point, I hope you know what good judgment is and will try to apply it”.
“But I think there is more to living life than just trying to use good judgment. We are all flawed somehow, and how you handle events when your judgment is flawed, is perhaps even more important.” “Use your good judgment based on the best information you have at the time, and under your immediate circumstances.” But if you are wrong, remember it was your best under those circumstances, and you have to forgive yourself for your misjudgments. “Life and learning are a continuum and you have no choice but to move on.”
“Old lessons take on new and expanded meaning over time, and you will always have to apply new judgments with new information and circumstances. The skill is to measure what may be new to you now, against what you thought you knew.”
“You shouldn’t get too anxious about your mistakes. You can’t go back. Besides, 6 months from now, whatever most worries you today, most likely will not be in your daily thoughts, because whatever the situation was, it will be resolved somehow, whether you like it or not”. “In 6 months you will be required to exercise new judgments, under new circumstances. Yesterday is gone, and you are fluid somewhere between the now and the future.”
Looking back now, the single momentary experience for a 15-year old at the crossroads of the Dos Cabezas and Kansas Settlement Highways has allowed me to often choose to venture out on a few of the “roads least traveled” and to be enriched as a person in ways I would never have experienced had it not been for a loving father who picked the right moment to give his son the advice he would need for life.