Keeping it between the lines

Published 4:38 pm Monday, September 27, 2021

I remember when I started school, I wasn’t one of those kids that was happy to go. I was skeptical of the deal from the start.  Once I got there and saw that we did a lot of coloring and took naps, I figured this school thing was not so bad.

There was a kid in my class who just couldn’t conceive the concept of keeping his coloring between the lines. He would mark all over his paper with no rhyme or reason and he often went around the room and marked all over the walls.

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The teacher would make him sit in the corner while the rest of us finished up our coloring projects. It seems that kid was not the only one that liked to mark on things because as my wife and I travel across this great nation of ours, I seem to notice a huge amount of graffiti everywhere I go. I used to think that graffiti was a big city problem with people spray painting their names across bridges and on the side of buildings. However, it seems that I cannot find a spot remote enough where I don’t end up running into some sort of graffiti.

I often see where people have marked their names on things that do not belong to them. We took a trip to Cumberland Falls State Park the other day and I noticed that every wooden hand rail and even some of the rocks along the trails was marked with everything from Jimmie was here to Billy loves Angie marked all over it.  I for one, couldn’t care less if Jimmie was there or not. Although, I wish he was here now so I could kick his behind and teach him not to write on things that do not belong to him. The markings will be there and we will be forced to look at it long after Angie wises up and dumps Billy despite his claim that it’s true love always.

On the way home from the park, I lost myself in thought about how sad that the only mark that some people can make in the world is to mark their name on a wooden handrail or post. I began to think about the impact that each of us can have on the world if only we would focus our attention on the right things. I think that if your only mark on the world can be covered up with a coat of paint then your mark was not on the right things.

I began to think about something my father said to me over 35 years ago that seemed to explain this to me. I was 16 years old and was learning to drive for the first time. After begging him to let me drive for a solid three hours, we went out for a drive. He looked at me over the top of his glasses and said, “Alright boy just keep it between the lines”. While that didn’t mean much to me at the time, I have since figured out that advice can be applied to anything in our lives. Some people, like the kid in my first grade class have trouble trying to keep things between the lines in their lives while others are afraid to ever pick up the crayon.

As you go out and about enjoying this cool autumn weather, try to make a mark on someone else’s life by spending some time in the great outdoors with them. Just remember to keep it between the lines.