I think I may have mentioned old Ed before, but he bears mentioning again. I was much younger when I met old Ed, and if I were to meet him today, I’m not sure if I’d think of him as “old” Ed. But that was a long time ago. Prehistory. I’m sure old Ed is pushing up daisies now.
When I met him, old Ed was very pleased with himself. He’d made quite a name for himself in “polite society,” and he’d made quite a bit of money over the years as well. You might say old Ed was doing alright. He was a retired professor, and when I asked him where he had taught, he said, “Tufts,” and when he said it, he tossed his head up and back just a wee bit. Every time he said “Tufts,” he did that. He tossed his head up and back. I realized that I might be in the presence of no ordinary person.
Anyhow, old Ed talked to me for a bit. I was doing some outside work on his property for a company he had hired that I worked for, and it was very hard work. He was inspecting my work, and he was good at it. We got to talking about society and people and attitudes, and at one point he said to me, “Appearances are everything--EVERYTHING.” And he tossed his head up and back again when he said it to make sure that I knew he was serious. I disagreed. He repeated himself and then looked at my baseball cap, t-shirt, and sweatpants. I silently laughed, but I made sure he didn’t see me.
Old Ed sure was a character, and I think about him now and then, usually with fondness. He was doing the best he could. Today was one of those days that I thought about old Ed. I was out in the woods and needed to take a break, so I sat down on a large rock in the shade and started to think. That’s when old Ed came into my mind. I started to think about how he had said “EVERYTHING,” as if it were so vital. I wondered what “everything” really was.
A hermit thrush was whistling his haunting, flute-like melody in a bush not far from me. That’s my favorite forest bird, and I sat back and closed my eyes and listened to his beautiful voice. It’s truly an amazing sound, and I thought to myself that might be “everything.” When I opened my eyes, I was greeted with that brand new paddy green color of spring. It was everywhere and it was breathtaking. And I thought to myself that might also be “everything.”
The breeze was so fresh and delightful. The temperature was perfect. There wasn’t a soul to be found except for me, and that might have qualified as “everything.” It was quiet and peaceful and relaxing. What an afternoon . . .
I thought of the “everythings” I knew about. Loyal friends, a warm and soft bed, a good roof over my head, a sweet little cat, fresh bread, good wine, and laughter. I thought about a baby’s cry, which even though it drives you crazy, when you don’t hear it anymore, you realize how it was “everything.” I thought of old letters from friends, the pages yellow with time, sitting in a drawer in my dresser. I thought about the sun and the rain and my garden. I thought about all the puzzle pieces that make up the whole.
Old Ed was wrong. Oh, appearances can be lovely things, and certainly we are attracted to what pleases the eye or fools the sensibilities. But old Ed was wrong. There are a lot of things that qualify in my life as “EVERYTHING,” but appearances are not on the list. I guess I’m lucky to have a lot of “everythings.” But then, old Ed had his “everything,” too, and he was happy, so who’s to say which of us is right or wrong?
Someday I’ll be pushing up daisies, too, just like old Ed. My “everythings” might not mean very much to someone else at that time, but that’s okay because, after all, they’re mine. “Everythings” are unique to individuals. You just have to decide what yours are, and then try to appreciate them before you join old Ed and me.