My morning didn’t start exactly the way I planned.
Waking up, having coffee, I envisioned a remarkable day out on Lake Namekagon with my 30-year-old non-classic Sunbird 18’ boat with an ancient inboard motor.
The sun had burned through the clouds and though there was wind my spirits were high and I was eager to explore a new lake with nothing to do today but relax.
Twenty-minutes and a full tank of gas in the boat later I removed the boat from its trailer, parked my car and got into the boat with my life jacket on and all of my preparations completed.
And, then I flooded the motor and drained the battery.
Ten minutes later I was back in my truck for a twenty-minute ride back to my cabin.
Pondering my options, I decided I would try to fix the boat myself.
(It is at this point that my wife, children, my Mom, all three of my sisters and my five brothers would be screaming, “For the love of God and all that’s Holy, Erich, what are you thinking?”)
Ignoring those mental screams, I dutifully removed the “hood” from the inboard motor of the boat and stared at it.
Because staring at things is the first step to fixing them.
I imagined what I might possibly do to unflood (because I think you would do the opposite of flooding, right?) the motor.
I know enough about batteries to know that the charger I own requires that the red clamp goes on the positive thing and the black clamp goes on the negative thing.
So, I started with that. I clamped the things and turned the charger on.
It worked. Relieve, I watched the digital screen show that the battery was charging as expected.
Now, to unflood the flooded motor.
My approach was simple. I needed to think about it.
So I decided to mow the lawn first.
I do some of my best thinking when I am not dealing with what it is that I am trying to deal with.
So, mowing at that moment allowed me to deal with what I was dealing with by not dealing with it.
Got it? Good.
As I mowed I realized I knew nothing about taking spark plugs out from a motor and drying them. In between my mowing I was googling things like “How to unflood a motor?” and “Can a flooded motor blow up and kill you?”
There were some YouTube videos and other helpful tools but all of them seemed really difficult and well outside my range of capability.
So, I did what any 53-year-old guy who knows how to put gas in a car, a boat and a mower would do – I got a fan and set it up in the boat and turned it on the spark plugs.
Or, what I assumed to be the spark plugs.
It’s at this point I need to interject with some portion of the moral of this story.
Through this entire adventure I could have found myself annoyed, angry, frustrated or just over all of it.
Here I was, at my cabin, with an old boat that I flooded, mowing my lawn, charging my battery and wondering if I was going to get out on the lake at all or not.
Except I wasn’t any of those things.
Because, here I was, at my cabin, with an old boat that I flooded, mowing my lawn, charging my battery and wondering if I was going to get out on the lake at all or not.
I wasn’t in the middle of a war zone. My big brother wasn’t killed by a bomb blast in the middle of a civil war. Nobody in my family is in want of food.
I’m not wondering where I will sleep tonight, or if anybody cares where I am – or if I am.
And, before you think this is another one of those stories where my entire life changed today I want to assure you that it did not.
God, I am blessed, and grateful for that.
Surprisingly – some may say shockingly – I got the boat started.
I got it back out on the lake and I spent two glorious hours exploring a new lake listening to Johnny Cash and enjoying the wonderful big and little homes and cabins that must be filled with love and memories and joy of others.
Two hours later my old boat was back on its old trailer being pulled by my old truck with a new big dent on the passenger side door back to my cabin.
Two miles from my cabin a “poof” what sounded like a sigh made me look at my side view mirror to see that the trailer had blown a tire.
I thought of making the two miles back on the rim. But, some craggy (and totally terrifying) dude with a dog I am sure was named Cujo drove up and said “You know, you break the rim and you’re screwed!” and that convinced me not to screw myself.
I unhitched my boat and drove back to the cabin where I thought I might find a trailer tire laying around.
I also realized that had I found such a tire I had not jack.
But, I have a neighbor at the cabin. A good and nice and considerate and generous neighbor.
He had a tire. A jack. And, a wonderful heart that insisted he go with me to fix my trailer.
Twenty minutes later we were back at the cabin with the boat and the trailer.
He came in for a drink so I could thank him. And, as we sat in my family’s little cabin around our little table looking through the windows at our little lake with our little dock my neighbor and I talked about how lucky we both are.
We have people who love us. We have people we love.
We have a place to call home and things that are old, and broken and worn out and not pretty to look at that work well enough for us to realize just how lucky we are to have the lives we have.
My morning didn’t start as planned and my day surely didn’t end as I imagined it would.
Sitting in my cabin after my neighbor went back home to make dinner for his family I looked out at the blown trailer tire laying on the deck.
So much of this day today resembled nothing like I wanted it to be. In fact, nearly all of it went exactly the opposite of what I was planning to have happen today.
I could have found today to be a horrible and wasted day and frowned about the ill fortune that befell me at every turn.
I could have.
Instead, I smiled.
Because, on my deck lies a blown trailer tire.