Sitting on the Porch

by John C. Westervelt

When I was a boy, my family sat together on the south-facing front porch after supper during the summer months. As I grew older, life took on a more serious bent.

At age sixteen I began a part time job with the Telephone Company that lasted until I graduated from college. My self-esteem was based on academic excellence during those school years and on my job performance during the years that followed. I supposed that time spent just sitting on the porch was a thing of the past.

Over the years, my job, activities, and home projects filled my days. The list of things to do was never fully achieved. How could I sit on the porch with jobs on the list? My office at Amoco Research, where I worked part-time after retiring five years ago, was closed in June, so my list is getting a little shorter.

On a late August day after finishing some early morning yard work, an inner voice asked, "Why not sit on the porch?" And so I did. The neighborhood children were in school, and the adults were at work. Sitting alone, I enjoyed the feeling of a breeze blowing across my slightly-moist arms.

I once owned a 1962 Volkswagen with a four speed manual shift. Driving in traffic, I’d rock the gearshift in neutral while shifting between third and fourth or downshifting between fourth and third. In neutral nothing happens.

On the porch I shifted my mind into neutral. The hurry-scurry thoughts soon disappeared. In a little while, submerged thoughts surfaced. Nature’s sounds, shapes, and smells encompassed me. She will remain here long after my present concerns have become history, whether resolved or not.

Wisdom has come slowly for me. If I had known back then what I know now, I would have let my self-esteem be governed by my inheritance as a child of God. And another thing, I would have found time for sitting on the porch.

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