Sometimes the most innocent of acts takes an unexpected turn.
Back in the day, before my 2 youngest brothers were old enough to join us, my brother Tim and I were the masters of our own activities, especially in the summer when days were long and countless acres of open farmland served as our playground.
Since I was clearly the boss (or so I thought) because of my almost 2 ½ years of seniority most daily activities centered around my preferences and the choices usually included our collection of what now would be considered extremely dangerous weapons like BB guns, bow and arrows, slingshots, homemade spears and the like. BUT there were definite boundaries on when, where and on what we could inflict damage with these so called weapons AND if we crossed ANY of these boundaries the consequences were harsh and non-negotiable.
Fair game for BB guns were targets of both the paper and beer can type, sparrows, blackbirds, rabbits, squirrels, and just for fun, to make chickens squawk and step lively (this was done when mom and dad were not watching because the boundary on this activity was a bit gray.)
Alas, one day temptation raised its ugly head and a big, fat easy target robin presented itself, well within bulls eye range on an electric line. I don’t remember who pulled the trigger (or denial has overpowered my memory) but I do remember we both were hypnotized by the too-good-to-be-passed-up opportunity and the forbidden songbird was slain. Before its lifeless body hit the ground I’m sure both my brother and I we thinking, “CRAP! We’re in for the hide tannin’ of our lives now!”
I also remember that partaking in this forbidden action didn’t taste nearly as sweet as I had imagined. In fact it was totally lacking in the victorious joy and jubilant pride I was expecting.
I felt like a coward.
We quickly gathered the evidence and found a secluded spot among the elm trees in the shelter belt to dig a shallow grave and carefully concealed the spot with an appropriate amount of twigs and leaves.
My shame was heavy.
I suppose you could say it was my first conscious lesson in think before you act, or speak, because once the trigger is pulled there’s no going back and most likely, the victory is fleeting and the prize is only an illusion.
Of course, forbidden fruit has crossed my path many times since then. I’ve repeatedly exercised my free will to pick it, eat it and ultimately puke it back up and the taste is just as bitter today as it was over a half century ago.
Weapons are just that … weapons.
Powerless in their own right, only in the hands of a “mindful” creature do they act as a catalyst of power.
Blaming the weapon and not assigning all of the responsibility to the individual in possession is like assigning guilt to a billboard advertising a new car when someone is killed in a freeway accident by someone who purchased that new car. OK, maybe not a stellar example but you get the gist.
Whether it’s harsh words, a box cutter or a semi-automatic rifle, choose your weapons wisely.
More importantly, aim and fire like your life depends on it, because it does!
Some things can never be undone, and when the smoke clears, all you’re left with is the heavy burden of shame and the memory of a shallow, hastily dug grave in a distant shelter belt on a farm in northeast Nebraska and one less beautiful song being sung.
Lesson learned but never forgotten…