Why I Won’t Make Potato Salad for You

It occurs to me that life can get overly busy. My neighbor, Kenny, was a kind-hearted man who lived across the road from me from the time I was a teenager. Kenny got cancer and I watched him whittle away within a few months. I’ll never forget his last words to me. I was weed-eating in the front yard. He was backing out of his drive in his red pick-up truck. He saw me out there and rolled down his window.. “Don’t work so hard, Darlene,” he said, then he smiled and drove away. It was just a simple statement that I would have written off as a neighborly formality had it been anyone else but Kenny. Coming from him, it had a profound impact upon me. Kenny and I had one thing in common. We were both conscientious, hard-workers. Coming from him, it made a chill go down my spine. It was like an epiphany. This man who had valued a perfect lawn, who worked harder than anybody I knew was aware that he only had a few months, at best, left on Earth, and he said to me, “Don’t work so hard.” It was as if in that simple statement he was saying, “It’s not worth it. There are so many more valuable things in life.” Now a few years down the road, I am constantly swamped by things to do, appointments to keep, etc., and suddenly, I’m remembering that day in the yard, the day Kenny told me not to work so hard. Maybe, there’s a time to write off the things that consume our time but amount to so little in the overall plan of our lives. There are some things that others can do well and for those things, I should let somebody else do them, but there are some things that only I can do and those things, I should do. So, if you ask me to make a potato salad and I tell you, “No,” don’t take it personally. I’m not that good at potato salads anyway.

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