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Letting The Chips Fall Where They May

April 24, 2007

My Uncle Cooper used to have a saying, “If you stir in it, it will stink.”

Now being raised in the country, I knew exactly what he was talking about. My siblings, cousins and neighbor kids used to play out in the cow pastures, or at least take that route to get to somewhere else, like the creek bank, and as one would expect, the trail we used was also used (even made) by the cows.

You see cows are creatures of habit too.  They use the same trail every day to get to work and to their eating-places.  Anyway, along the trail they leave piles of … well, PILES.  When you are walking along the trail, you have to “dodge the piles” or else you step right in it. (There’s a philosophy lesson there … or perhaps even a sermon.)

Fresh piles are easier to avoid for they are obviously rank, wet, and repulsive.  But time and nature will soon enough cause those piles to eventually crust over and begin to dry up.  However, it never fails that there is a curious cousin in your lot who can’t help but find a stick and start stirring up the dried up pile … “just to freshen things up!”

I know it’s weird … though the Stir-er will sum it up to being inquisitive, or perhaps as being helpful to expose it to others or to help get it off the trail.  Yeh, yeh … whatever!  The truth is some people just like stirring in cow piles.

Now Uncle Cooper was referring to the inquisitive minds that like to study (or stir up) piles of stuff that are really none of their business … like other folks business. For instance, seeing someone in a place that they “ought not be” and asking too many questions about why he was there and wondering if his wife knew he was there.  Or, noticing two co-workers going to lunch on a regular basis and making assumptions about the nature of their relationship.  Or, assuming that something is awry in the way certain business is handled and further investigation would help expose the matter and make life better for all concerned.

Uncle Cooper was a “man in the know.”  He knew lots and lots of stuff.  I could ask him just about anything and he’d know.  Though he was my uncle by marriage, they say that for many reasons, I could not be more like a daughter to him.  (they say the same thing about my daddy too, but for other reasons) (ever wonder why all your seemingly bad characteristics get blamed on the men in your life?)

Anyway, while Coop was warning me to “not stir” in a certain situation, I knew that he knew my curiosity was “on the money.”  He was probably just a bit subtler than I was about finding out the truth.  At that time, asking questions seemed the best way to get answers.  But over the years, I have learned a few things about “walking along cow trails” and not stepping in the piles that lay along the trail.

First of all, you do have to watch for those piles.  If you are not careful, you surely will step right in them and ruin your shoes. (If you are wearing shoes — and if you are not, then you are REALLY IN IT!)

Secondly, if you don’t stir in it, either rain or the sun and wind will eventually take care of the matter.  It’s impatience that causes us to want to supercede nature and let it take it’s course.  It’s never wise to “supercede nature” — or God’s Will. Basically, it’s just plain old manipulation.

Thirdly, cows are not the smartest animals in the world. There’s no need to get mad at them, or drag them down any further just because they dropped a cow patty in the trail. Things happen.  Cow patties happen — step over it.  It’s the nature of the cow. Doesn’t mean that they are altogether a bad creature … just a bit uncouth.

Fourth, if you are bothered by the cow patties along the trail … if you find them offensive or if you find that you just can’t help but stir in them, then perhaps it would be the best for all if you found another trail or made your own trail elsewhere.

But overall, know these PILES happen in the cow field … on a horse trail … and even in the back yard where “Old Yeller” walks around and digs for bones.  In fact, no matter where you go, there is a chance that you will come upon a pile of something.  And like Uncle Cooper said, “If you stir in it, it will stink.”

Let the thing dry up.  Step over it and go on your way. It’s really too much for one person to tend to all the piles in the world. Just leave it alone and “let the chips fall where they may.”

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